King Romans Group still plans to spend billions for development in the Golden Triangle

The communist government of Laos granted land to a Chinese company to develop a tourism destination but got a tax-exempt casino instead.

King Romans Group’s casino occupies 3,000 of the 10,000-hectare grant in the province of Boke along the Mekong River near the borders of Thailand, Myanmar and China.

The destination resort project, approved in April 2007, aims to transform the Golden Triangle, once the epicenter of the heroin trade, into a full-scale international destination with hotels, shopping, a golf course, spa and fitness facilities, swimming pools, medical facilities, an airport and other attractions.

Nothing like that exists at the site now, but Zhao Wei, the president of King Romans Group, told the South China Morning Post his company is investing millions of dollars to renovate the Mekong River port and build a road up to 30 kilometers to the regional capital of Ban Houei Xav. So far, about 3 billion yuan (US$455 million) has been invested, the company said, and plans call for billions more in the years ahead.

The casino, meanwhile, pays no taxes because it is located in a “special economic zone” designated by the government to spur development.