Yongyuan Casino

Yongyuan Casino is located in the Chrey Thom Commune of Kandal Province, on the border with Vietnam. Chrey Thom has a number of casinos and for several years, media reports have discussed online scam and gambling operations in the area, documenting deaths at Yongyuan Casino, as well as trafficking and detention of Vietnamese nationals to work in scams there. It is owned by a Chinese-born casino mogul who built his casino empire in Myanmar in the 1980s before expanding to Laos and Cambodia. He has been linked to several court cases in China related to illegal cross-border and online gambling operations.
  • Published 31 Jan, 2023

Chinese Name: 永源娱乐
Location: Chrey Thom Commune, Koh Thom District, Kandal Province, Cambodia

  • U Wang Young (យូ វ៉ាងយុង) / Wang Yong (王勇)
  • Won Chwin Kyane (also known as Sai Naw)
  • Won Chwin Kye (also known as Maung Sai Kyaw)
  • Won Chwin Lin (also known as Lei Lei Win)
  • Yong Yuan Real Estate Ltd. (永源房地产娱乐公司)
  • Yongyuan Group (永源集团)

What Do We Know about Yongyuan Casino?

Yongyuan Casino is located directly on the border with Vietnam in Chrey Thom Commune, Koh Thom District, Kandal Province. Chrey Thom is known as ‘Caitong’ (财通) in Chinese. Several casinos and online operations are located in the area, and Chrey Thom appears in numerous Chinese-language articles dating back at least two years, with several reports discussing Chinese people being sold to operators in the region and held against their will. Chrey Thom attracted international attention in 2022, when over 40 Vietnamese nationals escaped from another compound in the vicinity, evading security guards and leaping into the adjacent river and swimming to Vietnam. One 16-year-old boy drowned in the escape. This is detailed in the Pacific Real Estate / Golden Phoenix Entertainment City profile here.

The Yongyuan Casino is part of a larger development that was implemented in several phases. This includes a main building with casino and hotel, 130-rooms, KTV, a spa, and other facilities. The second phase consisted of five seven-story buildings situated around the casino. Satellite images show the development has grown further and expanded to the area across National Road 21.

Entrance to Yongyuan Casino. Source: Yong Yuan Facebook page.

Design images of Yongyuan Casino complex. Source: Yongyuan Group.

Design images of Yongyuan Casino complex. Source: Yongyuan Group.

Design images of Yongyuan Casino complex. Source: Yongyuan Group.

Drone footage of the Yongyuan complex can be seen in this video between 2:20–3:30. Source: Aerion Sky.

According to a report by Vietnamese media outlet Tuổi Trẻ News, in April 2020 a Vietnamese-Cambodian rescuer received a call from a man in Vietnam who said his 17-year-old son was being held at Pacific Real Estate / Golden Phoenix Entertainment City (profiled here). The son and his three friends had initially found work at Yongyuan Casino, but when they tried to leave, they were told they each had to pay US$2,500. The rescuer tracked down one of the young men at Yongyuan Casino and paid the fee, but the other three had already been moved to Pacific/Golden Phoenix, where the fee had increased to US$5,000 each. According to a VnExpress report, a large group of workers was sold to Pacific / Golden Phoenix after an escape attempt from Yongyuan in April. As we described elsewhere, there was subsequently a well-publicised escape from Pacific/Golden Phoenix as well. After the families tracked down the other three teenagers, they borrowed money in order to pay for their release.

In August 2022, a man was charged in Hai Phong City, northern Vietnam, for trafficking the four teenagers to Cambodia. Three were 16 years old and one 17. The man had taken the youths to his associates in Ho Chi Minh City, who then brought them across the border to Cambodia. According to Tuổi Trẻ News: ‘The teens were later sold to the Yong Yuan Casino, which actually operates swindling apps and online games.’ There they were ‘forced to work on computers to cheat people into getting loans via apps.’ They were paid US$20 a day, but fined when they failed to meet targets, and were not allowed to leave the compound.

In April 2022, it was reported that two Vietnamese men had fallen to their deaths from an eighth-floor window at Yongyuan Casino. Photos from the scene show that the men lived in a basic dormitory-style room with bars on the window. The men had apparently cut through the window bars and tied sheets together in an attempt to escape, but both had fallen and died from their injuries.

Yongyuan has multiple Facebook accounts, although it is not clear which ones are official. They include Yongyuan HQ HR, Yong Yuan HR, Yong Yuan- Hotel & Casino, Yong Yuan (永源娱乐), Yongyuan Casino, Yong Yuan A, and Yuan Yong. Several of these accounts post frequent recruitment ads, and others include posts promoting online gambling at Yongyuan. At least two Facebook pages (here and here) promote the online casino Kimbo Casino (金博娱乐), which has a LinkedIn page listing Yongyuan Casino as its location. Online gambling has been illegal in Cambodia since the end of 2019.

Online gambling platform at Yongyuan Casino. Source: Yuan Yong Facebook page.

Yongyuan had its casino license renewed in April 2022.

Yongyuan Casino license is renewed in April 2022. Source: Commercial Gambling Management Commission of Cambodia.

Yongyuan Casino license is renewed in April 2022. Source: Commercial Gambling Management Commission of Cambodia.

Which Actors and Companies Have Been Linked to Yongyuan Casino?

The website for Yongyuan Casino states that Yongyuan Real Estate Entertainment Company (永源房地产娱乐公司) is the owner. This is part of the Yongyuan Group (永源集团), which according to its website was established in 1988 and has operations in Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Macau, among others. Its business interests include real estate, gambling, tourism, hotels, dining, karaoke, and mining.

The registered name of the company in Cambodia is Yong Yuan Real Estate Ltd. According to Cambodia’s business registry, as of December 2022, it is chaired by U Wang Yong (យូ វ៉ាងយុង) and its directors are Won Chwin Kyane (also known as Sai Naw), Won Chwin Kye (also known as Maung Sai Kyaw), and Won Chwin Lin (also known as Lei Lei Win). The three directors are Myanmar-born naturalised Cambodian citizens, who all received their Cambodian citizenship on 2 July 2019. U Wang Young was born in China but holds Myanmar and Cambodian citizenship, which he obtained in 2003.

Naturalisation decree making U Wang Young a Cambodian citizen, August 2003.

Naturalisation decree making Lei Lei Win (Won Chwin Lin) a Cambodian citizen under the name Won Chwinlin Leileiwin, July 2019.

Naturalisation decree making Sai Naw (Won Cwhin Kyane) a Cambodian citizen under the name Won Chweinkayne Sainaw, July 2019.

Naturalisation decree making Sai Kyaw (Won Cwhin Kye) a Cambodian citizen under the name Won Cwhinkye Maungsaikyaw, July 2019.

Who is U Wang Young?

U Wang Young is a Myanmar name, and the decree naturalising him as a Cambodian citizen states that he is a Myanmar national. However, online articles indicate that the founder and chairman of Yongyuan Group is China-born Wang Yong (王勇). Photos show U Wang Young and Wang Yong to be the same person.

A recruitment ad for Yongyuan Casino posted on Facebook includes pictures of the company office. Photos can be seen on the office wall of Wang Yong with Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. In 2018, Wang Yong attended a ceremony of the Australian International Golf Association. The event was attended by several high-profile Chinese businesspeople, as well as Prime Minister Hun Sen’s nephew, Hun To.

Photos on the wall of Yongyuan Casino office show U Wang Young/Wang Yong with Prime Minister Hun Sen (top left). Source: 危伟成 Facebook page.
Wang Yong (left) with Hun To (centre) at meeting of the Australian International Golf Association in 2018. Source: 西澳华语905.
Wang Yong (second from right) with Hun To (centre) at meeting of the Australian International Golf Association in 2018. Source: 西澳华语905.

Wang Yong was born in Guangdong, China. One article from China Overseas Chinese Network (中国侨网) states that Wang started his business in Myanmar in the 1980s, but maintained ties to his hometown in Dianbai District, Maoming City, southwest Guangdong, making charitable donations for public works in the town where he was born. Dianbai developed a reputation as a ‘fraud village’ due to the prevalence of phone scams originating from the area in the mid 2010s. A biography published by Sohu News describes how Wang moved to Myanmar and invested in mining, raising capital that served as the foundation for Yongyuan Group. Several online articles state that while in Myanmar he married the daughter of an official in Kachin State in the early 1980s before setting up Yongyuan.

In the 1990s, Wang signed a gaming contract with Bao Youxiang, current president of Wa State, general secretary of the United Wa State Party, and commander-in-chief of the United Wa State Army. A 2003 article from Chinese newspaper Information Times (信息时报) stated that in 1996, Wang Yong established the Pangkham Casino (邦康赌场) in Pangkham, the de facto capital of Myanmar’s Wa State on the border with China. The casino was owned by Pangkham Entertainment Company (邦康娱乐公司), which appears on the Yongyuan website and is described as a subsidiary of the group.

In the 2000s, Wang chaired the Maijayang Special Economic Zone (迈扎央特区), an area located in another border area of Myanmar, in Kachin State. Maijayang was once a thriving area for cross-border gambling targeting Chinese nationals. From its establishment in the early 2000s, the area was controversial and linked to social problems in China as residents of Yunnan, and beyond, travelled to the area and accrued gambling debts. Numerous reports from the time discuss people from China held hostage in Maijayang and sometimes tortured if they could not pay off their debts. According to several reports, Yongyuan Group founded and controlled the Maida Entertainment Company (迈达娱乐公司), which was established to support the operation of casinos in Maijayang, the most famous of which was New Oriental Hotel (新东方大酒店), a well-known destination for Chinese gamblers back then (returned to below). In 2009, China pushed the Kachin authorities to crack down on the crime-riddled area, and eventually cut water, power, and phone signal that the area relied upon. This led to an exodus of Chinese from the area.

In 2006, Yongyuan Group’s financial director Dai Zhiwen was arrested in China. Police in Yunnan found that Yongyuan had established casinos in Myanmar that enticed Chinese nationals to illegally travel across the border to gamble. Criminal gangs in Kunming and Guangzhou set up mechanisms to facilitate the process by helping people to settle their gambling costs within China and avoid carrying cash across the border or making high-value international transactions that would be easily detected. During 2006, the illegal transfer of funds for gambling was valued at almost RMB 1 billion. The casinos established by Yongyuan operated multiple gambling halls in Myanmar, as well as online gambling websites for use by people located inside China. Dai was tried along with four other Yongyuan employees. The case had come to the attention of police in Yunnan after a man was found transporting methamphetamine on a bus to Kunming. Police found that he had transferred funds to an account that was ‘one of the many bank accounts that the chairman of Yongyuan Group had instructed his employees to open.’ On investigating the account, the police found a large number of high value transactions and began an investigation. In 2007, Dai Zhiwen was sentenced to seven years in jail, and the other four defendants to sentences between three and six years. The custodial sentences were slightly reduced on appeal.

In 2008, Kunming Intermediate People’s Court heard what Chinese media described as ‘the largest online gambling case since the founding of the People’s Republic of China’, involving over RMB 8.687 billion (around US$1.2 billion at the time). The central actors involved in the case were Hong Kong brothers Tan Zhiwei (谭志伟) and Tan Zhiman (谭志满). The case concerned New Oriental, which operated live gambling in Maijayang and Muguaba in Myanmar’s Kachin State and set up numerous websites targeting people inside China. Reports on the case mention Wang Yong’s role providing dealers to the casino. The Tan family had previously established a border casino on Jiangxin Island on the Ruili River in Dehong Prefecture, Yunnan Province, in 1999. This was closed down in 1999 following a police investigation and the Tans went on to invest in the New Oriental casinos in Myanmar.

According to China’s Procuratorate Daily (检察日报), police in China and Myanmar worked for 10 years gathering evidence on New Oriental’s casinos. The Tan brothers were sentenced to eight and five years, respectively, and 18 other defendants received custodial terms and fines, including the director of a branch of Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) in Ruili, Yunnan, who used his position to open hundreds of bank accounts to illegally facilitate the transfer of casino funds. From media reports on the case, it does not appear that Wang Yong was tried as part of the case. The patriarch of the Tan family, Tan Xiong (谭雄) was sentenced to four years in jail by a Hong Kong court in 2010 for his involvement in establishing New Oriental, arranging for Chinese gamblers to cross into Myanmar, and laundering proceeds through Hong Kong bank accounts.

A court judgement from 2015 sheds more light on the casino operations in Maijayang. On that occasion, a court in Heilongjiang found a man named Li and three others guilty of involvement in operating illegal casinos in Myanmar. The defendants worked for various casinos in the Maijayang Special Economic Zone. According to the judgement, an unnamed man ‘originally from Dianbai County, Guangdong Province, now a national of Cambodia’ acquired rights to develop and operate the zone in 2002. It also states that this individual set up the Yongyuan Football Company (永源足球公司) in the zone in 2006, providing betting services for global football matches. Although he is not named in the judgement, this description fits Wang Yong. This individual established the Maijayang Development Zone Management Committee (迈扎央开发区管委会) to manage companies operating in the zone. Five companies were set up under the committee, including Maida Entertainment Company (迈达娱乐总公司), Yongyuan Football Company (永源足球公司) and Maida Oriental Company (迈达东方公司). Between 2002 and 2010, these companies rented out space and managed casinos and gambling halls operating in-person and online gambling.

Wang Yong has made numerous donations to the Cambodian Red cross, making regular donations on World Red Cross Red Crescent Day, including donations of US$20,000 in 2020, 2021, and 2022

Connections to Yunnan Businessman Dong Lecheng

The 2015 court judgement mentioned above states that the unnamed Cambodian citizen (possibly Wang Yong), Dong Lecheng (董勒成), and Hong Konger Tan Guangtou (谭光头) established the Maida Oriental Company (迈达东方公司) in 2006. Operating until 2009, the company rented out and managed gambling halls. Dong Lecheng is a Chinese-born businessman who acquired Cambodian citizenship in 2014 and is connected to the Jinshui compound, as discussed in our profile here. The five defendants involved in the 2015 criminal trial were from Dehong Prefecture, Yunnan Province (Dong Lecheng’s hometown) and Dianbai County, Maoming City, Guangdong Province (Wang Yong’s hometown).

Dong Lecheng has a range of business interests in Cambodia, including JC International Airlines. Wang Yong was present at a ceremony in 2017 marking the arrival of JC Airlines’ new planes in Phnom Penh, as was Cambodian Senator Kok An and Chinese fugitive Xu Aimin, both of whom are linked to the Kaibo compound, profiled here.

JC Airlines celebrates the arrival of new planes in Phnom Penh, February 2017. Xu Aimin, Senator Kok An, Dong Lecheng, and Wang Yong circled. Source: Yunnan Jingcheng.
JC Airlines celebrates the arrival of new planes in Phnom Penh, February 2017. Senator Kok An, Wang Yong, Dong Lecheng, and Xu Aimin circled. Source: China Civil Aviation News.

Other Activities in Cambodia

In 2009, Yongyuan reportedly closed all of its Myanmar casinos apart from one in Pangkham, and Wang Yong focused his attention on Laos and Cambodia. In Laos, the Yongyuan Group website includes the Dansavanh International Entertainment Resort (丹萨旺国际娱乐度假村) in its project portfolio. In Cambodia, in addition to Yongyuan Casino, the group is closely linked to Bavet Moc Bai Casino in Bavet City, Svay Rieng Province. The company that owns the casino, Casino Bavet-Moc Bai Co., Ltd., is chaired by U Wang Young/Wang Yong, and includes the same three directors as Yongyuan (mentioned above), plus another Myanmar-born naturalised Cambodian called Nan Aye Nun (ណាន អេយីនុង). Nan Aye Nun became a Cambodian citizen the same day as Wang Yong.

Yongyuan has posted staff recruitment ads for Bavet Moc Bai Casino on online message boards, and states on the Yongyuan Group website that it owns the casino. The authors found a recruitment document on the website of the Yunnan University of Finance and Economics branded by both Bavet Moc Bai and Yongyuan advertising vacancies for Chinese nationals at their casinos in Cambodia. Media reports have linked the Bavet Moc Bai Casino to incidents of violence and implicated it in the operation of online scam operations. In September 2022, videos emerged of over 60 people fleeing a compound in Bavet, where they claimed they were held and forced to run online scams. Media reports later identified the location as Bavet Moc Bai Casino. You can read our Bavet Moc Bai Casino profile here.

Location of Yongyuan Casino

Links to Other Compounds, Companies, and Individuals

Yongyuan is closely linked to Bavet Moc Bai Casino in Cambodia’s Bavet City, Svay Rieng Province (see profile here). U Wang Young is chairman of both, and the two casinos share other senior executives. Yongyuan Group’s website includes Bavet Moc Bai Casino in the company’s portfolio.

Wang Yong has appeared publicly in Cambodia with Dong Lecheng, and both were part of the same network of actors involved in illegal cross-border gambling on the northern Myanmar–China border in the 2000s. Dong Lecheng is linked to the Jinshui compound in Sihanoukville (see profile here).

Yongyuan Casino in the News


31 August: Vinh Tho, Dan Thuan, and Tien Trinh. ‘Man Prosecuted for Allegedly Trafficking 4 Vietnamese Teens to Cambodia.’ Tuổi Trẻ News. Link.

Man from northern Vietnam arrested for playing a part in the trafficking of four teenagers to Yongyuan Casino for work in scam operations.

28 August: Le, Tan. ‘Vietnamese Parents Buy Back Children from Cambodian Casino Mafia.’ VnExpress International. Link.

Account of four sets of parents whose children were sold to Yongyuan Casino, and their struggle to get them back to Vietnam.

25 August: ‘“Hell 4.0”: Exploited Vietnamese Workers Escape Cambodia, Implicate Compatriots.’ Tuổi Trẻ News. Link.

Vietnamese media meets and gathers testimony from escapees of the Pacific/Golden Phoenix compound.

22 April: Huang, Yan 黄岩. ‘两名男子从财通一赌场大楼坠亡 [Two Men Fall to Their Deaths from Chrey Thom Casino Building].’ 今日柬闻 [Cambodia News Today]. Link.

Two Vietnamese men fell to their deaths attempting to escape from eighth-floor room at Yongyuan Casino.

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