The Kings Romans Casino is an island of extravagance in the Laotian jungle, its corrugated green domes arching high above the treetops.
Inside, hundreds of stone-faced gamblers hunch over baccarat tables, betting thousands of dollars a hand in heavy silence. Out back, a parking lot full of Rolls-Royce limousines adjoins dusty construction yards and banana plantations, with high, forested peaks beyond.
Brian Eyler, an expert on China-Southeast Asia relations at the Stimson Center in Washington who has visited the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone several times, said that the company’s use of land has created problems for local laborers.
Much of the zone is covered with banana plantations, and the bananas grown there “are not your typical Lao variety; they’re the ones you find in supermarkets in Beijing,” he said. “They’re grown with lots of fertilizer, lots of pesticides…. We’ve heard of many people getting sick from exposure to pesticides.”
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