The Cambodian government has issued ten new casino licenses, increasing the country’s total to 75.
Ros Phearun, Deputy Director General of the financial industry department at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, revealed that the majority of the new licences would be in the coastal resort of Sihanoukville.
“By the end of the third quarter of the year, we will have 75 casinos operating in our country. In the third quarter, we licensed 10 new casinos. Most of them are operating in Preah Sihanouk province where the industry is nearly nonexistent,” he said. “Our policy is to attract more investment, but we are also careful for any investment in the gambling industry because it is different from other industries. Although gambling is good for investment, the government has a clear policy to govern the industry in order to both increase the national budget and also protect national security.”
He added that most of the new casinos would be owned by Chinese investors.
The National Bank of Cambodia said it would make its first attempt to collect accurate data from casinos.
In a speech at the National Workshop on Statistics of International Trade in Services (SITS), bank Director Chea Serey thanked the governments of Australia and New Zealand for their assistance in improving Cambodia’s data collection.
“Perhaps next to Macau and Monaco, Cambodia has the largest proportion of casino income to total international travel credits of any country in the world. In the case of Cambodia, income generated by casinos from non-residents represents about 40 per cent of total international travel credit,” she said. “Cambodia is the only country in the ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] and perhaps the only one in the world to undertake a survey of casinos for travel credits even though casinos have been established in eight of the ten ASEAN countries.”
Cambodia’s gaming tax revenue surpassed $12m in the first half of 2015, representing a 20 per cent increase from the first six months of 2014. The Finance Ministry believes this was driven by an increase in Thai nationals crossing into Cambodia. Mr. Phearun said the amount of casino tax revenue collected is entirely dependent on the situation in the border areas.