Cambodia: Riel of Fortune

For much too long, Cambodian Chief of State Norodom Sihanouk fretted over the addiction of his "petit peuple" to gambling. All his antigambling laws —and regular police crackdowns on Pnompenh's 40-odd illegal houses of chance—had no effect. Cambodians and the equally avid Chinese and Vietnamese residents in the capital continued to gamble their riels away. Profits to the illicit houses were put at about $20 million a year.

Unable to beat the houses, Sihanouk decided to go them one better. Now le tout Pnompenh is flocking to a spectacular riverside gambling complex, opened as a government monopoly in February. Inside a...

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