Members of the Cambodian government have met with representatives from the gaming sector to discuss a bill to regulate the management of the country’s casino industry, reports the Khmer Times newspaper.
The discussions – attended by the country’s minister of Interior, Sar Kheng, and the minister of Economy and Finance, Aun Pormoniroth – were held earlier this week and involved more than 100 private sector representatives with gaming interests, according to the report.
The Khmer Times said that the government officials present at the meeting did not provide details regarding how much tax casino operators would be required to pay under the new bill.
Cambodia’s tax take from the country’s casinos rose 35.5 percent year-on-year in the first nine months of 2016, the Ministry of Economy and Finance announced earlier this week.
The Khmer Times additionally reported that the bill proposed the establishment of a committee to regulate the casino sector.
Under Cambodian law, only foreigners are allowed to gamble in the nation’s casinos. The Khmer Times news piece did not mention whether Cambodia’s government planned to lift the casino ban for locals as part of the new legal framework for the gaming industry.
The government is in the process of amending its gaming laws at least since 2014, in a bid to draw major casino operators.
“We are excited about the implementation of the bill as it will introduce a proper regulatory framework to Cambodian gaming,” Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd analyst Grant Govertsen wrote in a note commenting on the discussions held between the government and industry representatives.
He added: “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.”
According to the Khmer Times, the bill sets in stone NagaCorp Ltd’s exclusivity to run casino operations within a 200-kilometre (124-mile) radius of Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh through 2035, and its licence term through 2065. Company chairman Tim McNally was reportedly one of the industry representatives attending the meeting with the government.
There are currently 69 casinos in operation in Cambodia, according to official data. Many are in areas bordering neighbouring countries that bar casino gaming. One of the places with a concentration of border casinos is Poipet in the northwest of the country, near the frontier with Thailand.
The most high-profile casino property in Cambodia is NagaWorld, in Phnom Penh, operated by Hong Kong-listed NagaCorp.
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Summit Ascent, lead developer of Tigre de Cristal