The government collected $34.7 million in taxes from Cambodia’s 63 licensed casinos in 2015, a 33 per cent increase over the previous year, a Ministry of Economy and Finance official said yesterday.
Ros Phirun, deputy director of the ministry’s Finance Industry department, attributed the increase to improved tax collection efforts, a trend he said that would continue as the government looked to collect taxes from the non-gaming revenue sources of casino operations.
NagaWorld, the country’s largest casino, accounted for around 23 per cent, or $9 million, of this revenue, which included non-gaming taxes from its hotel, restaurants and entertainment facilities.
According to Phirun, several new casino licences were issued last year, while 12 casinos shut down, leaving 63 operational at year’s end. He said the ministry would look to enforce more-stringent tax collection in all casinos, especially those along the Vietnamese border.
“We will push to increase revenues in 2016 and will be more strict with tax collection,” he said. “We are looking at some casinos on the Vietnamese border, which have had poor operations and activities, and tax collection as well.”
Cambodia’s casinos are not subject to the same tax structure as other corporate businesses, and most pay a fixed fee according to the number of gaming tables and slot machines.
Critics have called for more taxation of the casino industry, which a senior central bank official said in October generates close to $2 billion in revenue a year and accounts for nearly 40 per cent of the Kingdom’s tourism revenue.
Son Chhay, chief whip of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, said the $34.7 million tax collected last year did not reflect the level of gambling activity, adding that the government had dragged its feet on drafting a law to regulate the industry.
“They have been saying that they will have a law for 15 years,” Chhay said. “They said we would have it by 2015 to be debated in the National Assembly, but we haven’t heard about the draft.”
Chhay said it was rare to find a country with 63 casinos not having regulations or laws governing their operations.
“They will come up with fees that casinos have to pay rather than a tax structure, which opens it up to corruption,” he said.