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Official to casino firm: I wouldn’t bet on it

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Employees operate gaming tables for the online operation of a casino in Bavet in November 2015. Victoria Mørck Madsen

Official to casino firm: I wouldn’t bet on it

Hong Kong-listed casino operator Macau Legend Development Ltd has unveiled plans to set up a resort that includes a casino in Siem Reap, a company executive said at a meeting on Wednesday.

The land purchase, he said, was almost finalised. But a Cambodian government official poured cold water on the plans, saying it would not allow gambling in the Kingdom’s biggest tourist destination.

In a report in GGR Asia – a website and newsletter devoted to the casino industry – Macau Legend CEO Chow Kam Fai was quoted as saying that by the end of the year the company expects to have a deal in place.

“The purchase [of land] is almost completed. Regarding important issues such as project size and other related questions, I believe we will be able to disclose those things in two to three months’ time,” Chow is quoted saying.
However, he did not give further details of its facilities.

Siem Reap is a popular tourist destination close to the Angkor Wat temple complex, a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Travel website Trip Advisor recently named Cambodia’s ancient wonder as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in its Travelers’ Choice Award 2018.

Siem Reap Provincial Governor Khim Bunsong could not be reached for comment.

While casino laws in Cambodia have not been finalised, the industry is currently supervised by the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF).

The deputy director-general of the MEF’s Finance Industry Department, Ros Phirun, on Thursday said the ministry had not received any investment proposal from Macau Legend as yet, but stressed a casino investment in Siem Reap will never get government approval.

“There is not even a single casino in Siem Reap because the gambling business is not allowed there.

“Investors are always expressing interest [to set up gambling businesses in Siem Reap], so they might have conducted internal conversations with company executives.

“But they might not know that the area is forbidden by our government for casino operations. We welcome investment, but not of the casino kind,” Phirun said.

According to Phirun, over 100 casinos in Cambodia have been granted MEF licences to operate, and that most are located in border areas.

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