Amid drop in tourism

Cambodia casinos' state revenue just 8% of law-required amount in H1 with only 20 properties in operation

The Star Vegas Casino in Banteay Meanchey, one of Cambodia's commercial casinos.
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According to the Ministry of Economy and Finance Commercial Gambling Committee of Cambodia (CGCC), state revenue from commercial gambling was just over 8% of the amount required by the budget law in the first half of 2022. As of June 30, only 20 of the more than 200 licensed casinos in the country were in operation.

The budget law requires 174.2 billion riels ($43.55 million) in state revenues from commercial gambling. The CGCC also notes that state revenues from lotteries and raffles ended up at about 76% of the segment’s required amount. The figures reported show that state revenue was well below expectations, despite the government’s prior effort in early November to resume tourism and other socio-economic activity.

The Law on the Management of Integrated Resorts and Commercial Gambling (LMCG) – promulgated in November 2020 – requires that casinos renew their licenses every year. According to the Ministry Deputy Director for Financial Industry Ros Phearun of more than 200 licensed casinos, 129 reapplied for their licenses this year. However, the CGCC’s General Secretariat only issued 13.

As reported by The Phnom Penh Post, the Deputy also stated that without a fuller recovery in tourism, not much progress could be made in the commercial gambling sector over the first half.

"We’ve seen that local tourists are taking trips, but international tourism remains limited, on which the commercial gambling sector depends, especially in border areas with Thailand and Vietnam that have only just recently opened. Commercial gambling operations have just resumed, leading to slow revenue collection," he said.

Star Vegas Casino in Banteay Meanchey

Phearun affirmed that the CGCC and broader government would push for the strict implementation of the LMCG as casinos resume operation after a Covid-19 hiatus, including the stringent conditions related to licensing.

Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia chapter chairman Thourn Sinan said that he welcomed the resumption of the casino sector as it would attract more tourists from neighboring countries.

"The resumption of casino operations will lure more tourists to gamble, which is a driving force for the tourism sector," he said as reported by The Phnom Penh Post.

The Star Vegas Casino in Banteay Meanchey province’s Poipet town, operated by Donaco International Ltd, also just opened back on June 18, after the Cambodian-Thai border reopened as normal.

The number of international arrivals to Cambodia plunged 84.96% from 1,306,143 in 2020 to just 196,495 in 2021, according to the Ministry of Tourism. Meanwhile, 4.66 million domestic trips were tallied last year, down by 35.5 %. Outbound Cambodian tourists dropped by 90.6% year-on-year to 30,517 in 2021, and international tourist departures fell by 86.6% to 183,608.