Tax Revenue From Casinos Rises Sharply in 2015

Thanks to improved collection efforts, a total of $34.7 million in taxes was taken in from Cambodia’s casinos in 2015, a 33 percent increase on the previous year, the Finance Ministry said on Monday.

Ros Phearun, deputy director-general of the ministry’s finance industry department, said the increase was notable, as the average annual growth in tax collection from casinos over the previous three years was only 12.5 percent.

Phnom Penh's NagaWorld casino (Jens Welding Ollgaard/The Cambodia Daily)
Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld casino (Jens Welding Ollgaard/The Cambodia Daily)

With only seven more casinos obtaining licenses this year, and only one of those becoming operational, Mr. Phearun attributed the rise to a stronger nationwide tax collection strategy.

The government last year launched a new strategy to boost revenue by improving the transparency, efficiency and equity of the tax system and monitoring tax collection more closely.

This strategy helped the government collect more tax revenue from largely untapped non-gambling sources within casinos, such as restaurants and nightclubs, said Mr. Phearun.

NagaWorld casino in Phnom Penh accounted for around 23 percent of all casino tax collection last year, in large part because it also contains an extensive entertainment and hotel complex.

“We could collect much more at NagaWorld from clubs, hotels, restaurants, karaoke and massage parlors, as they charge gamblers for these additional services,” said Mr. Phearun.

Tax collection from the smaller casinos along the Thai and Vietnamese borders also increased, but not as significantly. Mr. Phearun attributed this in part to increased monitoring of cross-border gamblers by Vietnamese authorities, which he said led to lower gambling revenue among many casinos along Cambodia’s eastern border.

Despite the significant growth in tax revenue collection from casinos, Son Chhay, a CNRP lawmaker, said he believed that state takings from the industry were still well below potential.

“It’s unacceptable that there are many casinos, but the collection was only just over $30 million,” said Mr. Chhay.

“NagaWorld can earn nearly $150 million a year, while our country has a lack of money for development,” he added.

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