Casinos in border areas see steep fall in takings, say owners,
as Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld invests in 200 new slot machines
AFINANCE Ministry official said gaming revenues this year have dropped sharply at Cambodian casinos on the borders with Thailand and Vietnam. He said that has reduced the government's tax take.
Chea Peng Chheang, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, also told the Post late Tuesday that NagaWorld casino recently signed a deal to add 200 gaming machines.
NagaWorld's operator holds the only licence to operate a casino away from the country's border areas.
"Since NagaWorld was granted an exclusive casino licence in Phnom Penh, revenues at NagaWorld have increased, which means more tax revenue for the government account," said Chea Peng Chheang.
He said the government last year collected US$18 million in tax revenues from the gaming industry, but admits the tax take has dropped this year "although not too much". But he acknowledged that the dozen casinos at Poipet on the border with Thailand, and those at Bavet near Vietnam's border, are facing a significant challenge.
Those difficulties were echoed by casino tycoon Phu Kok An, a senator with the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP). He owns two casinos - one in Kandal near the Vietnam border, the other at Poipet - and told the Post that business is "really slow". Customer numbers have halved, and he has retrenched 50 percent of his staff.
Phu Kok An said the global economic crisis and the threat of a global flu pandemic are the two most intractable problems.
"At this stage it is difficult to describe the general situation, but it has been seriously affected," he said. "There hasn't been much development in the way of tourism, and the garment sector and construction sector have both slowed."
The Hong Kong-based Business Wire reported on Monday that Elixir Gaming Technologies Inc had agreed with NagaWorld to operate 200 more gaming machines at the Phnom Penh casino.
Elixir currently operates 237 machines at NagaWorld.
NagaWorld's senior manager for gaming and events, Tan Kenghong Lawrence, declined to comment on the deal.