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Illegal casino development in Kayin state provokes protests

Reports have emerged from Myawaddy, near the border with Thailand, of hundreds of people protesting over eviction from their homes, apparently to make way for a new Chinese-financed illegal casino.

The evictions were allegedly carried out by the Kayin State Border Guard Force, which has its own business interests in partnership with China’s state-owned Jilin Yatai Group Company.

The new Myawaddy project is likely dwarfed by the same two partners’ real estate mega-project along the Thaungyin River at Shwe Kokko, which is said to involve a $15 billion investment encompassing luxury villas, an entertainment complex, supermarkets, department stores, a police station, an airport, cargo depots, a 1,200-room hotel, casinos, an industrial zone, and a wildlife sanctuary. It is scheduled for completion in 2027.

While Myanmar did pass a gambling bill last September that allows for some foreigner-only casinos to be legalized, the existing casinos run by the Border Guard Force in Kayin state have been operating openly but illegally.

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