$4bn Casino Resort to Be Built in Cambodia

 

  • Cambodia has a booming gambling sector
  • Locals cannot legally gamble, but the country is becoming a popular tourist destination
  • NagaCorp is planning a third casino resort in the capital, Phnom Penh
  • It will cost $4bn to develop and will probably be linked with the city's other two resort casinos
Stone asura in foreground, Cambodian sunset in background
NagaCorp is planning a third casino resort in Cambodia’s capital at an investment of more than $4bn.

Gambling history in Cambodia

While the gambling industry in Cambodia has been booming recently, the country’s citizens in Cambodia cannot legally gamble.

The Law on Suppression of Gambling was enacted in 1996. Various types of punishment are prescribed for those caught gambling, with imprisonment a possibility for more serious offenses.

Of course, tourists can legally gamble at the country’s casinos in the country. Cambodians can participate in the five national lottery offerings.

Citizens could also play slot machines until 2009. However, as problem gambling and gambling debts rose, a ban was imposed on the activity. Although it is illegal, there is a massive black market in the country.

Growing trend

The boom in gambling in Cambodia began when gambling was largely curtailed in the region. Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam all banned gambling, so there was an opportunity for Cambodia to fill a gap in the market by embracing gambling.

More and more facilities are being developed in Cambodia. In 2018, for example, the number of gambling facilities grew from 98 to more than 150. Sihanoukville has a large portion of these facilities and it is also a tourist hot spot. It is becoming one of the leading destinations for gambling in the region.

Vietnam has taken notice of this success in Cambodia and is now building many casinos for foreign visitors. The ban on locals entering and playing at these casinos has been lifted for the near future.

The tax revenues, employment, and stimulation of the local economies are massive benefits.

Background to NagaCorp

NagaCorp is the biggest casino and hotel operator in Cambodia. The company has a 70-year casino license in the country, which doesn’t expire until 2065. The license gives NagaCorp a monopoly in a 200-kilometer radius around Phnom Penh until 2035.

The only exclusions to this monopoly are in border areas with Vietnam, namely Sihanoukville, the Kirirom Mountains, and Bokor. The first of NagaCorp’s casinos in Cambodia opened in May 1995 on a boat on the Mekong River. Its first land casino opened in 2003.

In 2006, NagaCorp held its initial public offering (IPO) on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, becoming the first gambling-related company in Cambodia to go public.

New $4bn resort planned in Cambodia

NagaCorp plans to develop a new resort casino worth $4bn (£3.1bn) in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. The company already has a casino there, NagaWorld. The planned resort casino is part of the company’s wider plan of expanding into mega-resorts.

This project is being called Naga 3 because it is the third phase of the plan. The Cambodian government has given its approval in principle from the Cambodia government to go ahead with the project, which will include four separate buildings with 42 stories.

It will be spread across about 7,700 square meters, but this may grow by the time the project starts. NagaCorp bought another plot nearby, which is over 9,000 square meters in size, and has approval for another five blocks of buildings.

The project still needs formal approval from the minister of economy and finance. However, a government spokesman speaking to the local newspaper said that this project would be great for creating jobs, attracting more tourists, and increasing tax revenues.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance has yet to receive documentation regarding this project. However, they also appear to believe that there is already unofficial approval.

This new casino resort will likely be linked to NagaCorp’s other two casino resorts in the capital through the NagaCity Walk, which is completely underground. It already connects the other two casinos.