Cambodia’s government earned one-third more tax revenue from casino gambling in 2015 than it raised one year earlier.
On Monday, Cambodia’s Finance Ministry announced that it had collected $34.7m in casino taxes in 2015, up 33% from 2014’s total. The gain is a marked departure from 2014’s 12% gain and the 12.5% average annual growth recorded over the past three years.
The ministry’s deputy director-general, Ross Phearun, attributed 2015’s bonanza to improved nationwide tax collection. Pheaurn claimed that the ministry had issued only seven new casino licenses in 2015, only one of which had actually commenced operations last year.
NagaCorp’s flagship NagaWorld property in Phnom Penh accounted for 23% of the government’s casino tax haul. NagaWorld is not only the country’s largest casino, it’s also a far more diversified venue than the small gaming-only casinos that dot the country’s borders with Thailand and Vietnam.
Tax collection from these smaller casinos was also up, but Phearun said the gains were not as dramatic as the overall figure. Phearun said the casinos bordering Vietnam had suffered from Vietnamese authorities keeping a tighter watch on their border crossings after multiple reports of Vietnamese gamblers falling victim to foul play in Cambodian casinos.
Phearun didn’t break out figures for Donaco International’s new Star Vegas property in Poipet, which reported a surge in its VIP business in 2015 as Donaco signed lucrative new junket operator deals.
Cambodia National Rescue Party member Son Chhay, a reliable critic of the nation’s casino industry, found little to celebrate in the ministry’s figures. Noting that the country had now issued 75 gaming licenses, Chhay said it was “unacceptable” that the government’s tax take was still so low. Cambodia Daily quoted Chhay expressing his anger that “NagaWorld can earn nearly $150 million a year, while our country has a lack of money for development.”