Vietnam’s relaxation of rules on sports betting by locals – coming hard on the heels of news about a pilot scheme allowing domestic casino betting among certain nationals of that country – could have a negative impact on Cambodia’s casino business, a senior official of the latter nation is reported as saying.
“Changes in Vietnam gambling laws will lead to increased competition for Cambodia’s casinos and will likely affect local businesses,” stated Ros Phirun, a deputy director-general of the Cambodian Ministry of Economy and Finance’s financial industry department, in comments reported by the Phnom Penh Post on Tuesday.
“Cambodia’s casinos have been typically operating without much immediate regional competition,” the official was further quoted as saying.
On Friday, Vietnam’s government issued a decree for a pilot scheme that would allow Vietnamese citizens aged 21 and over to place wagers on authorised football and horseracing betting products from a single licensed operator that is due to go live from March 31. Media reports in that country said it was an attempt to shift into the official economy what was already happening on a huge scale via the black market.
“For Cambodian casinos, we allow all types of games online and that includes live betting, sports and lottery,” Mr Phirun was quoted by the news outlet as saying. “While it is still a relatively new market it attracts a lot of Vietnamese gamers,” he added.
The official was indirectly quoted as saying that sports betting operations in Cambodia were typically based in conventional bricks and mortar casinos in Bavet on Cambodia’s border with Vietnam, and in Sihanoukville on Cambodia’s coast; and that 35 of the kingdom’s 65 licensed casinos had launched online gaming portals.
On January 20, the Vietnamese government published a decree paving the way for selected domestic casinos in that country to accept bets on standard casino games from economically-qualified Vietnamese gamblers aged 21 and over, for a trial three-year period.
Cambodia’s border casinos – notably in Bavet and Poipet – had reportedly proliferated in number by respectively attracting Vietnamese or Thai customers, thanks to longstanding bans on casinos in those neighbouring countries.
Shortly after Vietnam’s casino decree, Mr Phirun had been quoted by the Khmer Times newspaper as saying most Vietnamese gamblers visiting Bavet were coming from Ho Chi Minh City and surroundings in the south, while the as-yet-unbuilt Vietnam resorts identified as authorised for locals’ gambling were nearer to Hanoi in the north of Vietnam.
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