Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Number of casinos jumps by 53% in 2018

Number of casinos jumps by 53% in 2018

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
One of casinos at Sihanoukville named New MGM. Heng Chivoan

Number of casinos jumps by 53% in 2018

Cambodia granted 52 licences to casinos last year, bringing the total awarded to 150 at the end of 2018, thanks largely to a surge in gambling businesses in the Kingdom’s Preah Sihanouk province.

Figures from the Ministry of Economy and Finance said that there were 53 per cent more licensed casinos at the end of last year compared to the end of 2017 when there were just 98.

Ros Phirun, the deputy director-general of the ministry’s General Department of Financial Industry – the gambling business regulator in the Kingdom – said there are 88 casinos in the coastal province alone.

Phirun could not detail revenue collected from the casino industry last year, saying the ministry is collecting data and preparing a report.

“We have not finalised it [the report] yet, but we targeted the collection of $56 million this year [2018],” he said, adding that casino operators must pay an annual licence fee of $40,000.

“We are actively drafting the law to govern casino and gambling businesses, and when it is finalised and ready to be activated we hope revenue from the sector will be bigger.”

Sihanoukville is undergoing a massive transformation. A flood of Chinese tourists and investors has begun to change the landscape by setting up everything from casinos to towering luxury resorts, as well as restaurants, street stalls and shops.

Noting that casino investors have come from various countries, Preah Sihanouk provincial spokesman Or Saroeun agreed that the huge increase in Sihanoukville’s casinos could be linked to the inflow of Chinese travellers and investments.

He said Cambodians are barred from betting in casinos and, if the law is fully enforced, the growing number of casinos will provide a positive impact for local people.

“Cambodian people are benefiting from the business directly as they can supply food, vegetables, meat and fish to meet the increasing demand from gamblers and investors."

“People will also indirectly benefit from the growing casino business through economic development resulting from increased government tax revenue,” he said.

However, despite the inflow of casino investment in Preah Sihanouk offering some positive impact, such as an increase in land prices and employment opportunities, more casinos also means there are increasingly negative aspects.

Among many criticisms are concerns for public order, with some foreigners getting drunk and fighting each other in restaurants and public places.

Affiliated Network for Social Accountability executive director San Chey said the increasing number of casinos should not be welcome news, as it represents a worrying trend of social risk factors.

Of the increasing number of casinos in Preah Sihanouk province, Chey said there are many negative impacts due to the rising number of gamblers.

If law enforcement is not strong enough, he said, the social impact of the increasing number of casino businesses would be a cause for concern.

“I’m afraid that casino businesses will serve as a channel for money laundering and human trafficking, or become a source of social problems,” he said.

He said that even though local people are not allowed to bet in casinos, there are many reports of Cambodians losing money through gambling in casinos.

“The gambling business is not all good for us. The increasing number of casinos should be a worrying trend for the country. I don’t believe yet that the tax revenue from the casino businesses has been contributing to a solution of the issue.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and

  • Culture ministry: Take Tuol Sleng photos down, or else

    The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts has told Irish photographer Matt Loughrey to take down the photos of Khmer Rouge victims at Tuol Sleng Genocidal Museum which he allegedly colourised and altered to show them smiling. The ministry said Loughrey's work is unacceptable, affecting