New low tax casino bill set to make Cambodia more appealing to operators

  • A final draft of the Country’s gambling law is likely to be presented to cabinet for review by the end of September
  • The move is believed to have been spurred on by a report by a US State Department report claiming the country is harming itself due its lack of gambling regulation

Cambodia is bidding to increase its overseas investment appeal with a new draft designed to tighten up the countries gambling regulations after a US State report described the nation’s casino market as under regulated, which would put off American casino bosses from making the plunge in the Asian country.

Cambodia gambling bill
A new low tax casino bill set to make Cambodia more appealing to operators

It is believed that the main draw of the draft is a 4-5% tax on total gaming revenue which will likely appeal to foreign operators looking for a place to set up in the bustling Asian market and to create an oversight body to monitor casinos’ financial operations and clamp down on money laundering.

Government keen for more Tourism over higher tax

Cambodia has become a well-known travel destination for those on gap years looking to create a sense of adventure, and it seems the Cambodian government are keen to further increase revenue by opening its doors to foreign casino resort operators.

The country currently has 77 gambling licenses in which only 65 are actually in use, with the country’s officials identifying gambling as a way of further boosting tourism as the country is enjoying somewhat of a financial renaissance in recent years.

The 4-5% tax levy the draft will imply would set levels at an internationally low level comparative to Singapore with Ros Phearun, Deputy Director of the Finance Ministry’s Financial Industry department telling media:

“We got a lot of input for the draft law after many inter-ministerial and stakeholders’ meetings. The draft law which was finalised by joint technical teams from the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Interior will now be submitted to the government’s cabinet within this month.”Ros Phearun

Cambodia’s Casino income

In the year 2016, it was reported that the Cambodian government collected $48 million in taxes from casinos.

That is a whopping 40% increase on the previous year and highlights the importance of the sector, despite the fact that Cambodian citizens are actually barred from gambling in the country’s land-based casinos.

Tourists from China has become the staple of the industry along with visitors from Vietnam and Thailand.

Tim McNally (chairman of casino operator NagaCorp Ltd) claimed he is expecting changes to the country’s casino regulations to happen by the end of the year but would not speculate on the proposed 4-5% tax levy.

His company reportedly paid the Cambodian Government US$4.1 million for the first six months of 2017 as NagaCorp pay a flat tax adjusted upward on an annual basis levied on its gaming tables and slot machines.

In 2016, the corporation’s tax paid to the Cambodian government equated to around 4.8% firmly in the proposed 4-5% bracket.

When are we likely to know more?

The draft is expected to go up in front of cabinet members as soon as the end of this month and it is expected to attract little opposition on its way up the chain.

Changes could be made sooner rather than later and just so long as the political landscape does not change considerably, then Cambodia could start to see their financial figures improve further with foreign operators entering the fray.

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