The Myanmar government has decided to closely monitor the operations of two casinos which have been functioning for the last twenty years. The casinos are suspected of violating gambling regulations in the country and the government wants to investigate and see if they have breached the 1899 Burma Gambling Act.
The two casinos under the radar are the Victoria Entertainment Resort on Treasure and the Grand Andaman Resort which is situated on the Thahtay Island which spans over 1,800 acres. The two resorts have targeted gamblers in nearby Thailand who are happy to take a short boat ride to Myanmar’s casinos as gambling is forbidden in Thailand.
According the government, the 1899 Burma Gambling Act (.pdf) does not permit casinos to operate in Myanmar but the two casino resorts have been operating with the permission of the government since the early 90s. Government reports show that each casino remits an income tax of around K250 million, which is the equivalent of $210,000 to the Union government on an annual basis. The previous military run state had given both casinos permission to operate in the country but a change in the political scene and the rise of the National League for Democracy has brought both casinos under the scrutiny of Regional chief minister DawLaeLae Maw.
Maw stated that she wasn’t aware what kind of permission the two casinos received from the previous administration but has commission for the casino agreements to be translated from English into Myanmar so that they can be verified. Maw stated that she believed the casinos only had permission to provide gamblers with token coins which are similar to slot machine coins and not with real money.
In a statement, U KyawLwin, the owner of Grand Andaman Resort said “The Tanintharyi Region chief minister told us that if our operations were not in line with the 1899 Gambling Act, we should try to follow the rules and laws and help promote tourism in Kawthoungtownship, because other businesses in the area are not doing well. This pilot project to boost tourism over the past 20 years was started by the government itself. When we bought the resort in 2015, we were given a 50-year licence to operate.”
One of the concerns that Maw has is that the casinos are attracting more than two hundred Thai nationals on a daily basis who spend large sums of money gambling. The government wants only small scale gambling to happen at the casinos but this could be difficult as the casinos have already complained that they were finding it difficult to attract enough visitors to occupy their hotel rooms.
Maw has made it clear that the current Myanmar government does not want to shutdown the two casinos but wants to ensure that they fully comply with the regulations stipulated in the gambling act. The chief minister also stated that the government had no plans to take the casinos to court and were currently in talks with both casinos to work out a feasible solution.