Cambodia’s National Assembly signed off last month on a series of measures designed to reform the regulations for the obsolete casino industry in the country. Appeasing the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which the country hopes would contribute to more and better tourism, was one of the priorities of the new laws. Despite being referred to as nothing more than “lipstick on a pig” by one industry expert, the laws are now officially in effect and only time can tell if they can find their target.
The Senate of Cambodia signed off on the measures about three weeks ago, following the approval of the National Assembly, which saw the laws receive 114 out of 117 votes. Inside Asian Gaming has now admitted to the country’s Deputy Director of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, Ros Phirun, that the laws went live this past Saturday. He believes that the Law on the Management of Integrated Resorts and Commercial Gambling (LMCG) will lead to higher tourism, which will stimulate the economic growth of Cambodia while seeing more jobs coming to the region.
A gross gaming income tax on casinos is imposed by the current legal system, requiring 4 percent on VIP gaming operation and 7 percent on the mass gaming section. The industry will be overseen by the new Integrated Resort Management and Commercial Gambling Committee, which will be headed by 11 government ministers who will be appointed soon. Legal gaming areas, as well as prohibited zones and preferred zones, are also defined by the rules. The first and second are self-explanatory, while the third means that the zones mentioned in that category are the only ones that would be allowed for future developments.
If all goes according to plan, and Sophal Ear, the “lipstick on a pig” analyst, is wrong, the gaming laws of Cambodia will be implemented across the board faithfully and equally, enabling the country to broaden its tourism efforts. The LMCG includes terminology intended to ensure proper oversight at all casinos, which will eventually lead to a fairer, cleaner gaming industry.
The country’s Minister for Economy and Finance, Aun Pornmoniroth, believes the laws will find their target. Last month, he said: “Regulations on the commercial gambling sector are designed to enable the sector to operate under the umbrella of transparent law. Under the effort of the government and investor’s trust toward the government, some national and international investors started casino investment on the Cambodian-Thai border in the Poipet area in 1999. [It is] in the face of the increasing investment [that] the government has pushed for the management of the gambling sector.”