New Lotto Company Enters a Shrinking Industry

A Hong Kong company is hoping to attract a sizeable slice of Cambodia’s lottery market with the opening of outlets in Phnom Penh and around the country next month, according to the CEO of the firm’s local subsidiary.

EGame Solutions, the parent company of Cambodian Mark 6, established an office in Phnom Penh earlier this year under the brand CM6 and is currently constructing an office and gambling shop on Sihanouk Boulevard that will open by the end of the year, according to the company’s chief executive officer, Phillip Wong.

Mr. Wong says CM6 has been granted a license to operate by the Ministry of Finance and expects to open branches in Siem Reap and Battambang after the opening of its main office in Phnom Penh.

The company plans to sell its tickets at some 1,000 retail outlets around the country, he said, adding that CM6 will also provide the government with a steady stream of revenue.

“The key thing is everybody will buy lottery tickets, so the company can give the government a lot in tax,” he said. “Surely the increase in revenue for the government is good.”

Ros Phirun, spokesman for the Ministry of Finance, confirmed that CM6 had been given a license to operate, but noted that the vast majority of companies that have taken a punt on the country’s lotto market have gone bust.

“In the beginning, around 2005, there were 40 to 50 companies. But one by one, they’ve gone bankrupt again and again because business is very slow,” Mr. Phirun said.

“Now there are just five companies. Maybe the Cambodian people don’t like to play the lottery or something like that.”

The ministry spokesman also said he had low expectations for tax revenue coming from the new firm.

“Some companies pay very little tax. In total of the five [lottery] companies, they pay just about 50 million riel [$12,300]. Very, very small business in Cambodia,” he said.

Srey Chanthy, an independent economist, said the lottery is mostly a pastime of the poor, who are playing less and less.

“The reasons are: One, they don’t have as much interest and, two, they don’t think they’ll win anything,” Mr. Chanthy said.

(Additional reporting by Kang Sothear)

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