Cambodia needs to hasten the passage of the draft gambling law to avoid missing out on investment opportunities in the gaming sector.
This was the consensus among gaming industry experts from Cambodia and abroad attending the Mekong Gaming Summit, which is being held in Phnom Penh.
The event – which has attracted industry experts and stakeholders from Cambodia, Singapore, Philippines, China, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Taiwan, India, and Vietnam, among others – started on Monday and will conclude today at Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra.
In an interview, Rosalind Wade, managing director of Asia Gaming Brief (AGB), said Cambodia needs to act fast and approve the law “as soon as possible”.
AGB, which describes itself as “an intelligence service providing up to date market information for worldwide executives on relevant gaming issues in Asia”, is the lead organiser of the Mekong Gaming Summit.
“As you see now, there is a huge amount of interest in Cambodia among international operators of casinos and integrated hotels,” she stressed, noting that some of these are among the biggest players in the industry.
But according to her, the lack of a gaming law pose problems to some investors, particularly the ones from Europe and the US who are concerned with compliance. “They want clarity, they want proper and clear guidance before investing,” she noted.
Echoing Ms Rowe, Ros Phirun, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Commerce’s General Department of Financial Industry, said that faster action on the proposed law would be in the best interest of the Kingdom. He noted that the gaming industry could play a critical role in the Kingdom’s economic development.
Mr Phirun, who helped draft the law, said some “defects” have delayed the passage of the law. “I expect it to be finally approved sometime next year. It could be early or in the middle of 2020,” he said.
According to him, they have consulted experts from other countries – including Singapore, Philippines, and Malta – to improve the law.
For various reasons, the final passage of the renamed Law on the Management of Integrated Resorts and Commercial Gambling (LMCG) has been delayed repeatedly since the idea was first broached in the 1990s.
Two months ago, it was reported that the draft law will be submitted to the Council of Ministers after its completion at the ministry level.
Cambodia has a rapidly-developing gaming industry that is mostly concentrated in the port city of Sihanoukville. At the beginning of 2019, Cambodia had 150 casinos, with more applications pending.