The Cambodian government has encouraged the casino industry to flourish in the country and its 69 licensed casinos have witnessed a combined increase in revenues during the first nine months of this year bringing in an additional $34.7 million in gambling taxes, which is a 35.5% increase when compared to the same period in 2015.
The government has wanted to impose a new tax law on Cambodia’s casino industry for the last couple of years but is yet to make any official changes. The Khmer Times reported that senior government officials and key members of the casino industry met earlier this week and discussed the newly proposed casino bill. Sar Kheng, the minister of Interior and Aun Pormoniroth, the minister of Economy and Finance, were present at the meeting which was attended by more than 100 representatives of private sector companies who had affiliations to the casino industry.
According to the Khmer Times, the new casino proposal seeks to establish a regulatory body that will oversee the casino industry in the country. The new bill will also look to increase the percentage of gaming taxes that casinos have to pay going forward but no information regarding the increase was released. Cambodia currently permits only foreigners to gamble at the casinos and there have been talks in the past of lifting the ban and allowing locals to also gamble as this will encourage international operators to invest in the country and develop more casinos. There was no information given as to whether this local ban will be lifted under the new casino proposal.
In a statement, Grant Govertsen, analyst at Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd said “We are excited about the implementation of the bill as it will introduce a proper regulatory framework to Cambodian gaming. This should enhance valuation as regulated businesses are typically more valuable. It also paves the way for greater commercial and financial support from institutions that have historically shied away from Cambodia due to a lack of regulations. While no tax rate was unveiled, we continue to believe it will remain very modest.”
The new bill does not interfere with the NagaWorld casino in Phnom Penh, which is the largest and most popular casino in Cambodia. The new casino proposal reinforces the right of NagaCorp Ltd, which operates the casino to exclusivity within a 200 kilometre radius of Phnom Penh till 2035. The casino license will remain valid till 2065.
A number of Cambodia’s casinos are located near the border and pay the government a flat tax rate under the current casino law as it is difficult for the authorities to calculate gaming taxes based on the current accounting system followed. There was no information if the new casino proposal will remove the flat tax rate and impose a percentage based tax rate on these casinos near the border.