A Cambodian government official was quoted on Friday as saying gambling business was “not allowed” in Siem Reap, near the country’s UNESCO World Heritage site Angkor Wat.
The comments by Ros Phirun at the Ministry of Economy and Finance (pictured) came after David Chow Kam Fai, co-chairman and chief executive of Hong Kong-listed casino services firm Macau Legend Development Ltd on Wednesday said it was negotiating to buy land in Siem Reap for an “integrated resort”. The term is typically a euphemism in the industry for a venue containing a mix of casino space and non-gaming facilities, although Mr Chow did not specifically use the word “casino” when referring to the scheme.
On Friday the Phnom Penh Post newspaper reported Mr Phirun saying of Siem Reap: “The area is forbidden by our government for casino operations. We welcome investment, but not of the casino kind.”
A Macau Legend spokesperson said on Friday in an emailed reply to a GGRAsia request for comment regarding the Siem Reap proposal: “Macau Legend Development is in discussions with the Cambodia government over the possible development of an integrated resort and hotel, and will announce when an accord be reached.”
Macau Legend already runs several Macau hotels and invests in several Macau casinos using the local gaming licence of SJM Holdings Ltd. Macau Legend also runs a casino venue called Savan Legend Resorts Hotel and Entertainment Complex in Laos.
Cambodia has for several years been mulling enactment of a law to regulate the casino industry, including possible introduction a gaming tax as a percentage of gross gaming revenue, rather than the flat taxes on gambling tables and machines presently imposed on casinos. Currently the sector is supervised by Mr Phirun’s ministry.
The Phnom Penh Post quoted Mr Phirun as saying that more than 100 casinos had been granted ministry licences to operate in Cambodia, and that most were located in border areas.
Bu he reportedly added: “There is not even a single casino in Siem Reap because the gambling business is not allowed there.”
A mutual evaluation report on Cambodia, published on September 5 last year by the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering, said that as of the end of 2016, Cambodia had 63 licensed casinos.
(Updated 7.15pm, June 1)
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