Cambodia’s government went out of its way to welcome gambling providers into the country during the past few years and its liberal gambling laws have been successful in attracting major investors into its casino industry. Those policies appear to be finally paying dividends as the country’s finance ministry recently released a report which confirmed that the government had collected $34.7 million in gambling taxes during 2015.
Cambodia recorded a 12 percent increase in gambling taxes during 2014 and the three gambling tax average stood at just 12.5 percent. The government attributes this significant rise in gaming taxes due to the strict tax policies imposed in 2014 that based on a government report focused on “improving the transparency, efficiency and equity of the tax system and monitoring tax collection more closely.”
Son Chhay, a member of the Cambodia National Rescue Party and an opponent of the casino industry alleged that the rise in gaming tax revenue was due to the fact that the government licensed more casinos in 2015 when compared to previous years. The government has denied these allegations stating that it had only issued seven casinos licenses in 2015 and only one of those casinos were operational during 2015.
The increase in gaming taxes must also be attributed to the performance of Cambodia’s casino industry. The NagaWorld casino resort in Phnom Penh is the biggest casino in Cambodia and also the largest contributor generating as much as 23 percent of the government’s gambling taxes. NagaWorld has focused both on gaming and non-gaming related activities and these efforts appear to be paying off really well.
The smaller casinos located along the borders of Thailand and Vietnam may not have done as well as NagaWorld but are still generating significant revenue for the country. These smaller border casinos could have generated even more revenue if it wasn’t for the heighted border control security imposed by Vietnam and Thailand, after reports emerged that gamblers from these countries were being exploited in Cambodia’s casinos once they crossed the border.
There was no information released on the performance of the new Star Vegas property in Poipet which is owned by Donaco International. The casino has focused on the VIP customers from Mainland China and has formed partnerships with a number of junket operators after it reported a surge in VIP gamblers during 2015.
Cambodia has now licensed over 75 casinos to operate in the country and a number of these casinos will commence operations in 2016. Son Chhay expressed his disappointment once again over the gambling reforms in Cambodia stating that if NagaCorp can generate $150 million in gross gaming revenue, Cambodia should be collecting a lot more than $35 million in gambling taxes.