Gaming Up in Cambodia

The Cambodian government has reaped $12 million in gaming taxes in the first half of 2015. That’s a 20 percent year-over-year increase in a country where the number of casinos has risen from 57 to 65. The owners of NagaWorld (l.) in Phnom Penh expect to report a 40 percent increase in profits.

More Thai gamblers, fewer Vietnamese

Cambodia saw a 20 percent spike in its share of gaming revenues from January to June of this year, according to Finance Ministry spokesman Ros Phearun.

Phearun said the number of licensed casinos in the country has risen from 57 to 65, and more Thai nationals are visiting Cambodia to gamble, reported the Cambodia Daily. He added that Vietnamese gamblers is down, however, a reflection of the growth of casino gaming in Vietnam.

“The amount of casino tax revenue collected is dependent on the situation in the border areas. The proportion of tax revenues from the Cambodia-Thailand border areas is large,” Phearun said.

Currently, only holders of foreign passports are allowed to gamble in Vietnam’s casinos. In Thailand casino gambling is not legal, although there have been recent suggestions that licensing casinos could boost tourism in the country and stop locals to go across the border to gamble. Thai Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha, however, has shown little interest in adding such an initiative to the government’s agenda.

NagaCorp Ltd, developer and operator of NagaWorld casino resort in Cambodia’s capital, said it expected its first half net profit to rise “not less than 40 percent” compared to the same period in 2014. The Hong Kong-listed firm anticipates such profit to be “not less than US$100 million and potentially more,” it stated in a filing in June.

Phearun acknowledged that the government has no national law regulating casinos, and each operator has a unique agreement with the state, reported GGRAsia. In 2014, the government was to be revising gaming-related legislation, which would include a draft of a national law.