Mongolia parliament will vote on casino legislation aimed to stimulate their slumping economy. The draft legislation will be for a multi-billion dollar casino development designed to attract high-roller gamblers from gambling centers such as Macau. It will also result in a diversification away from the mining industry in Mongolia, which has been a focus of its economy in the past.
On February 12, the Cabinet Secretariat approved a draft bill that would allow two casinos to be built through private partnerships. These would specifically target high-roller gamblers from China at a time when other countries across Asia are investing in the development of large casino resorts in order to attract wealthy gamblers from around the region, China in particular. Vietnam and South Korea are in the process of planning to establish casino resorts and the Philippines recently opened the City of Dreams resort.
“Russia, China and Japan are some of the biggest gamblers in the world,” commented an anonymous source from the working party that drafted the bill. “Japan and Russia already don’t need visas for Mongolia, and Chinese with official passports don’t either.”
Legislation permitting casinos in Mongolia was annulled in 2010 due to corners over negative social effects and corruption. This bill is being considered in an effort to boost the economy through new centers for tourism. Included in the draft bill are restrictions for Mongolians, preventing them from gambling at the casinos. This is comparable to countries such as Vietnam, South Korea and Cambodia which also prevents its citizens from gambling in the country’s casinos.
The casino resorts would be owned and operated by private investors. A number of prominent companies have already expressed interest in expanding their footprint in Asia and these include US Billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands, MGM Resorts and Genting Bdh.
The sites for the potential casinos have not been stipulated, although the Khushigt International Airport that is under construction may be one option.
Mongolia’s parliament will break for recess for the country’s lunar new year on February 18 and it is unlikely at this stage that the vote will take place before the recess. If not, it will be expected once parliament returns.
The working party has stated that they considered casino legislations in France, the United States, Singapore and Korea before undertaking the drafting of the bill. It is important to note that in February, China announced that it would crack down on foreign casinos that attempt to attract its citizens abroad for gambling.
“Xi Jinping has plans for restrictions on Macau and business is shrinking now, so hopefully we can get tourists that might have travelled to Macau,” said the working party member. The casino resorts planned for Mongolia will aim to be superior to those in Macau.