Despite the fact that the Savan Vegas casino has been growing since its opening in 2008, now attracting between 8,000 and 10,000 visitors a month, its owner Sanum Investment Ltd. is not investing any further due to a lack of confidence in doing business in the country.
The company has been hit by a retroactive tax bill for $23 million and executive vice president Richard Pipes has said that it will not pursue any further expansion plans while it still has a legal dispute with the government. The situation was not helped when the Laotian government allowed police and military officials to assist Sanum’s mintority partner, ST Group, forcibly remove Sanum officials from its slot club in Thanaleng and let a local family operate it. Although the Thais and Vietnamese were the original targets for the Savan Vegas due to its location on the Thai border near Mukdahan province and also Lao Bao in Vietnam, the property has been attracting increasing numbers of Chinese tourists and investors in the Savan-Seno Special Economic Zone. The company has adapted its marketing strategy accordingly and has proposed investing in the Savannakhet airport so that it can accommodate larger aircraft. It is also in talks with an airline and tour agents to be able to fly tourists direct from China to Savannakhet.