Last month, Cambodia’s National Assembly signed off on a series of measures that were designed to update the regulations for the country’s outdated casino industry. One of the goals of the new laws was to appease the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which the country hopes will lead to more and better tourism. Despite being referenced by one industry analyst as nothing more than “lipstick on a pig,” the laws are now officially in place and only time will tell if they will find their target.
Following the approval by the National Assembly, which saw the laws receive 114 out of 117 votes, Cambodia’s Senate signed off on the measures about three weeks ago. The country’s Deputy Director of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Ros Phirun, has now acknowledged to Inside Asian Gaming that the laws went live this past Saturday. The Law on the Management of Integrated Resorts and Commercial Gambling (LMCG), he asserts, will lead to greater tourism, which will spur Cambodia’s economic growth while seeing more jobs come to the country.
The new legal framework places a gross gaming revenue tax on casinos, requiring 4% on VIP gaming activity and 7% on the mass gaming segment. The new Integrated Resort Management and Commercial Gambling Committee will oversee the industry, being led by 11 government ministers who will be selected soon. The laws also establish legal gaming zones, as well as prohibited zones and favored zones. The first and second are self-explanatory, while the third implies that the zones listed in that category are the only ones where future developments will be allowed.
If everything goes according to plan, and the “lipstick on a pig” analyst, Sophal Ear, is incorrect, Cambodia’s gaming laws will be enforced consistently and fairly across the board, allowing the country to expand its tourism efforts. The LMCG contains language that is designed to ensure that all casinos are monitored appropriately, which would ultimately lead to a fairer, safer gaming industry.
Aun Pornmoniroth, the country’s Minister for Economy and Finance, believes the laws will find their target. He said last month, “Regulations on the commercial gambling sector are designed to enable the sector to operate under the umbrella of transparent law. Under the effort of the government and investor’s trust toward the government, some national and international investors started casino investment on the Cambodian-Thai border in the Poipet area in 1999. [It is] in the face of the increasing investment [that] the government has pushed for the management of the gambling sector.”