In Cambodia, draft legislation that would establish a new regulatory regime for casinos and gambling is reportedly due to be sent to the nation’s cabinet for deliberations by the end of the month.
According to a report from the local Khmer Times newspaper, the proposed legislation has been in the works for almost three years and has been designed to help attract overseas casino operators to the Asian country via the imposition of more friendly tax rates. It is additionally hoped that any new venues these firms subsequently build in Cambodia would serve as a magnet for international tourists and assist in bringing in more foreign currency.
“We got a lot of input for the draft law after many inter-ministerial and stakeholders’ meetings,” Ros Phearun, a Deputy Director-General with the nation’s Finance and Economy Ministry, told the newspaper on Monday. “The draft law that was finalized by joint technical teams from the Finance and Economy Ministry and the Interior Ministry will now be submitted to the government’s cabinet within this month. There would not be delays at the cabinet level for the approval of the draft law because we have incorporated lots of input from all concerned ministries and parties.”
The Khmer Times reported that Cambodia is currently home to 65 licensed casinos and these contributed some $48 million in tax revenues during 2016, which was an increase of around 40% year-on-year, although the NagaWorld Hotel and Entertainment Complex in Phnom Penh accounted for almost half of this total.
“We really need to get this law off the ground fast because it will help us manage the [gaming] industry better and also collect taxes,” Phearun told the newspaper. “In addition, it will also attract more big investors into the industry and also bring in tourists.”
The Khmer Times reported that the legislation proposes to set the tax rate for casino games at between 4% and 5%, which is comparable to that paid by venues in nearby Singapore. While moreover establishing the Gaming Management Committee to oversee the industry and guard against money laundering and other criminal activities.
In related news, the newspaper reported that casino operator Donaco International Limited has announced that it could be set to further expand its presence in Cambodia. The Sydney-listed firm currently runs that Star Vegas Resort and Club near the border city of Poipet, as well as the Aristo International Hotel in neighboring Vietnam and is purportedly actively looking to develop or acquire new properties in the two nations.
“The next three to five years are expected to be exciting for Donaco [International Limited] as we continue to eye new opportunities in the leisure and entertainment segment, particularly by digitizing the gaming experience,” Joey Lim Keong Yew, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer for Donaco International Limited, reportedly told the online news portal at StarBizWeek. “In the next five years, we expect to enlarge our footprint in ASEAN. Apart from that, we are also open to venturing outside the region.”