The number of casino licenses issued in Cambodia continues to soar, with the Ministry of Finance revealing another 13 licenses had been issued during the first four months of 2019.
The new licenses lift the nation-wide total to a new high of 163, with more than half of those – 91 to be precise – located in Preah Sihanouk province, also known as Sihanoukville.
The rapid rate of development in Sihanoukville, primarily relating to new casino resorts funded by Chinese investment, has become a major point of contention in recent years amid concerns over growing violence and widespread pollution.
In March, officials ordered the closure of the Jin Ding Hotel and Casino following multiple complaints that the resort was flushing raw sewage straight into the sea.
Nevertheless, the Deputy Director-General at the Ministry of Finance’s financial industry department, Ros Phearun, told the Khmer Times this week that the growing number of casinos “reflects the increase in tourists, particularly Chinese.
“We have granted a lot of licenses, but there are actually only 51 casinos in operation,” he added. “The rest are now being built, while some have halted operations.”
Phearun, said the government was expecting to collect around US$70 million from the gaming industry in 2019, up from US$46 million last year.
The Cambodian government is currently working on a draft gaming bill, the Law on the Management of Integrated Resorts and Commercial Gambling, aimed at refining regulation of the industry.