The operator of Cambodia’s largest casino, NagaCorp, has welcomed a Prime Ministerial directive that will see the country no longer issue online gaming licenses.
Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen issued the shock directive last week, revealing that the government will stop issuing any new online gaming licenses and won’t renew current licenses when they expire.
With licenses in Cambodia lasting for one year, it means that all online gambling operations will effectively be outlawed completely from August 2020 onwards.
The news will undoubtedly shake things up in Sihanoukville, where online gaming has been behind an explosion in new casino developments in recent years due to a key licensing requirement that live dealer/online operations must take place in a bricks and mortar casino.
But not so for NagaCorp, with Chairman Tim McNally describing the directive as a positive step forward for regulated gaming in Cambodia.
“We recognized some time ago that there was compliance and regulatory weaknesses in Sihanoukville and are pleased to see the government intervene to improve the regulatory environment and address local crime issues,” McNally told Inside Asian Gaming.
NagaCorp, which operates its hugely successful integrated resort NagaWorld in Phnom Penh under a monopoly license, is also licensed to run online gaming but McNally said it had long opted to steer clear due to compliance and regulatory concerns.
“With a monopoly in the capital and commercial area of Phnom Penh we believe we still maintain a competitive edge over other operators in the country,” he explained of that decision, noting that NagaCorp has traditionally looked to emphasize “self-regulation and effective compliance” as opposed to some less reputable operators in Sihanoukville, Poipet or Bavet.
“This has proven to be a prudent approach to our business success. Improving areas of corporate governance should be a priority for any successful operator within Cambodia.”
Cambodia’s Finance Industry Director at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, May Vann, recently revealed that 200 gaming licenses had been issued with another 30 pending. Although not all are in active use, Global Market Advisors’ Senior Partner Andrew Klebanow puts the number of casinos currently operating in Cambodia at around 100.