Casino tax revenue in Cambodia was reduced by half last year, according to the latest tax figures the government of the country published. In 2019, Cambodia’s casino tax revenue was around US$85 million and this dropped to US$40 million in 2020.
Government officials say that the drop in tax revenue is the direct result of the casino closures in the country due to COVID-19, while the reduction in tourists from abroad didn’t help either.
Crippling Blow to the Casino Industry
There are 193 licensed casino operators in Cambodia and most of them were forced to close their doors when the pandemic began and have been struggling to weather the storm ever since.
Ros Phearun, Deputy Director of the Ministry of Economy and Finance in Cambodia, said that the COVID-19 epidemic had dealt a “crippling blow” to the Cambodian casino industry.
He added that almost all Cambodian casinos stopped working in 2020, and the seven or eight that tried to remain open had difficulty keeping their businesses afloat.
The Prime Minister of Cambodia, Hun Sen, ordered in April that all casinos in the country must close their doors to visitors. Cambodian casinos only reopened in August, but some weren’t able to welcome casino players as late as October.
Online Gambling Ban
However, it’s not only the closures of casinos that have affected the figures of the gambling tax revenue that was collected.
Cambodian online casinos had to contend with a ban on all online gambling sites in the country. The ban started on 1 January 2020 when the online gambling licenses the casinos possessed expired.
New Gambling Legislation to Help Casinos
But it’s not all doom and gloom for Cambodian casinos. The country recently passed a law that incentivizes the opening of new casinos and helps existing ones.
The Law on the Management of Integrated Resorts and Commercial Gambling (LMCG) stipulates that casinos will pay a 4 per cent flat gross gaming tax on revenue for VIP and a 7 per cent flat tax rate for mass casinos.
Mr Phearun said he expected the new legislation will help casino operators keep their businesses afloat and that he anticipated tax collection to improve in 2021 because of it.
However, Mr Phearun didn’t dare to predict that revenue figures will indeed increase as he said that making such predictions can be meaningless as the pandemic was still spreading and slashing the country’s tourist arrivals.
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