Myo Min Soe / The Irrawaddy

Casinos in Myawaddy

The Irrawaddy ...

Would it be surprising to see two modern casinos on the bank of the Moei River – also known as the Thaungyin River – in Karen State’s Myawaddy just opposite Mae Sot, Thailand?

The casinos were built about two years ago in Myanmar, where any form of gambling is illegal.

The two casinos offer stunning views of the Moei Rover and sell liquor, beer, cigarettes and perfume duty free, but not in Burmese kyats – only Thai baht is accepted.

From Mae Sot, a motorized schooner ferries passengers from the ‘999’ border gate.

At the entrance to the casinos, security guards search patrons. Pictures and selfies are not permitted once inside. Neither is wearing sunglasses.

From outside, the two buildings look deserted. But inside, there are hundreds of gamblers either playing or waiting, all holding Thai banknotes. There is no sign of them leaving until their money is gone.

The casinos are open all night and managed by Laotians, according to gamblers.