Three new casinos are to open along Cambodia’s border with Vietnam, reports the Phnom Penh Post newspaper, quoting a senior Cambodian official.
Ros Phearun, deputy director of the finance industry department at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, reportedly said the casinos will be located along the Vietnamese border in Takeo province’s Kiri Vong district. They are likely to serve players from Vietnam, stated the newspaper.
Vietnam also has casinos and is said to be planning more, but currently bars its own citizens from playing in them. Cambodia also bars its own citizens from gambling in its casinos, helping to boost the regional market for border establishments.
According to the Phnom Penh Post, Mr Phearun declined to disclose the names of the owners of the new Cambodian border casinos, or the capital investment involved, but did confirm they were locally owned.
Cambodia also has casinos on its border with Thailand, serving visitors from the latter country.
Many of Cambodia’s border casinos are locally owned, although larger firms such as Nasdaq-listed Entertainment Gaming Asia Inc (EGT) are also in the border market serving Thai customers. EGT has plans for new and larger casino projects in the region. Australia-listed Donaco International Ltd recently announced it too was entering Cambodia’s Thailand border trade.
In June, Mr Phearun said Cambodia’s government was planning to revise its gaming laws reportedly in order to make them stricter and more transparent, in a bid to attract extra foreign investment.
According to the Phnom Penh Post report on Thursday, the ministry is in the final stages of drafting a law specifically to manage casinos in the country. Casino operators in Cambodia pay a flat tax levied typically on the number of slot machines and gaming tables they operate, but the details can vary from operator to operator.
Last year, the gambling industry generated US$25 million in tax revenues from 59 casinos. The tax take increased 12 percent from 2013.
Currently the largest single investor in the country’s casino industry is Hong Kong-listed NagaCorp Ltd, which operates a monopoly venue in the capital Phnom Penh, called NagaWorld.
Vietnam is the largest source of visitors to Cambodia, with 900,000 Vietnamese coming to the kingdom in 2014, according to data from Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism.
Cambodia and Vietnam are members of a regional club of sovereign states, known as ASEAN – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. But the neighbours have longstanding tensions in bilateral relations.
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