The Commercial Gambling Management Commission of Cambodia (CGMCC) has dished out full casino licenses to nine firms, temporary licenses to 76 casino companies, one lucky gambling company, and temporary lucky gaming licenses to two companies.
Ros Phearun, Secretary General of CGMCC, said that the casino industry is crucial for luring tourists to Cambodia during times of economic crisis and helping the country's economy to recover.
He added that most casino licenses are extensions of the previous supplier, not new ones, and that Sihanoukville is the province that has the most casino license renewals.
CGMCC granted temporary licenses to 76 businesses and casino licenses to nine businesses in late December.
A temporary license means that not enough documents are available to the commission, and a full casino license requires the necessary documents, which are valid for one year and can be extended for another year.
“The Ministry of Finance is the licensor when the legislation is not yet published, but since the law has already gone into effect, the full license is a 100 percent complete document, and a temporary license has not yet been filed, giving them until 2024 to finish,” Phearun said.
Not all of these are new licenses, according to Phearun. He added now is the time to renew them all. It is necessary to complete the paperwork as soon as legislation is issued; in certain situations, the submission deadline is extended.
In the third quarter, after the casino sector reopens, it will bring in around $20 million for the government in 2022.
“Since there are regulations for commercial games that are required to be enforced, it may be difficult for all operators to accept the flexibility of licensing, so the commission has temporary licenses given to operators who have not yet provided all the documents. Operators who have provided all the documents can seek a full license,” Phearun said.
CGMCC executes the essential provisions of the gambling management legislation in order to organize, control, and manage tax income so that it enters the government automatically,
Am Sam Ath, operations director of rights group Licadho, told Kiripost that granting licenses to casinos and gambling businesses comes with significant risks and is likely to draw negative attention. As a result, there have been several considerations of fraud and human trafficking.
“Cyber scam and other forms of human trafficking. In 2022, the United States, a partner in the prevention and suppression of human trafficking, downgraded Cambodia to third place, which is a bad omen, and there were international reports of people being trafficked to Cambodia," he said.
The Cambodian government has been contacted by various embassies to assist foreign nationals who are victims of fraud and human trafficking in Cambodia. Additionally, Somat raised the case of a casino in Poipet that recently caught fire, killing many people and injuring many more. This incident, the casino's technical specifications, and the people involved must all be investigated, he said.
Before granting casino licenses, the government must conduct an extensive study, Sam Ath added.