ambodia's casino industry tax collection more than halved to US$40 million in 2020, from the US$85 million logged a year earlier, as Covid-19 prompted the government to tighten entry restrictions, limiting the number of international visitors to the jurisdiction.
“As we’re all too well aware, the Covid-19 epidemic began in late 2019 and persists to this day. It’s pulverised all economic sectors, and the casino industry has sustained a crippling blow as well. Practically all of our casinos ceased operation in 2020, with only just seven or eight left scrambling to keep their businesses afloat. That’s why our revenue collection has dropped so much, ” he told The Phnom Penh Post on Sunday.
On Aug 18, 2019, Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a directive banning online and arcade gambling in the Kingdom by the end of the year, stating that such operations had provided foreign nationals with the opportunity to secretly run online money extortion scams. The prime minister noted that licensed online gambling operators were rigging their games and threatening those unable to repay their gambling debts.
Coupled with lingering Covid-19 uncertainties, Phearun said the ban further drove down tax revenue from the sector. Making matters worse still, the government suspended all casino operations from April until August-September, which saw a handful of businesses resume for the fourth quarter, he said.
“As a matter of fact, we expect tax collection from our casino industry to improve in 2021 thanks to our compliance with the recently-passed [Law on the Management of Integrated Resorts and Commercial Gambling], launched on Nov 14, 2020, with the expectation that [tax revenue] will double. We’ll collect [taxes] in a transparent way, but as Covid-19 continues to spread and slash tourist arrivals, we dare not predict what the revenue from this sector will be” for fiscal year 2021, Phearun said.
According to Phearun, 101 casino operators in the Kingdom have applied to renew their licences year-to-date out of a total of 193 registered by the end of last year.