|Savan Vegas Casino in Savanakhet, South Laos|
Countries like Laos, Cambodia and Burma make good use of the fact that gambling is illegal in Thailand combined with the fact that Thai like to gamble. So at the doorsteps of a few border towns are casinos for the Thai to bring their money. As also at Savannakhet. When crossing the "Friendship bridge 2" between Mukdahan (Thailand) and Savannakhet (Laos) just take a left turn at the roundabout that is about 500 meter after the Lao immigration and follow the road for another 800 meter and there is a huge casino & hotel a-la Las Vegas style. They even have special mini-vans and busses going from/to the border to pickup customers. Although must be said that getting away from it took so long that I did choose to take a TukTuk instead of waiting another hour for the shuttle service. I do not like to gamble so I was there just to have a look and I must say it does look much better as the casinos that I have seen in Cambodia. It really is as Las Vegas!
It seems to me that most clientele here are Thai and that is why there is a bus going every hour from Khon Kaen to Mukdahan! But looking to the way people are dressed and behave it are people from all walks of life. The rich "Bangkokian" Thai family with kids (yes learn them gambling when they are young), the simple dresses business man, the young hiso Thai ladies and a few Lao officials. As of seeing the people working there this casino must bring in good jobs for the local people. But it seems to me that the management is in western hands. There is the main entrance hall with roulette tables, black-jack tables and many slot-machines. What was new to me was the way it all works. About 30 people are playing at 1 roulette table via a computer screen! And at one corner was even "Internet gambling" where about 5 black-jack tables were being used and filmed for broadcasting live on internet. Of course there are also VIP private rooms, a luxury hotel, restaurant and a massage spa. See http://www.savanvegas.com/