Myanmar, one of the last two Southeast Asian countries that do not have a legalized casino industry is pushing forward with a new gambling bill that is currently awaiting approval in Parliament.
Gambling analysts expect Myanmar to approve the 2018 Gambling Law as it already has the recommendation of President U Win Myint and should be enacted in May.
Prior to the 2018 Gambling Law, legislation on gambling in the country dates back to 1986. The new law was drafted in 2017, spawned by a petition made the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism to the Ministry of Home Affairs. They wanted casinos to operate as it can boost the service industry and cater to the foreigners staying at the hotels. The new gambling law aims to boost tourism in the country and also increase tax revenues.
Currently, only Myanmar and Thailand have no operating casinos and officials are wary that they are being left behind. If casinos are not allowed to operate in Myanmar, they are likely to bring in a lot of foreign investment.
Al Jazeera English
Casinos Could Curb Illegal Gambling
While there are no casinos in Myanmar, there are illegal gambling operators who have set up operations near the border such as Tha Htay Kyun (Boss Island) in Taninthayi, Myawaddy, the Wa self-administered zone and the Kokant self-administered zone. The government has struggled to clean up these illegal gambling operations and does not benefit in anyway as no gaming taxes are paid.
When the new law is enforced, there will be legalized casinos at hotels in Yangon and Mandalay. This will result in more opportunities for local businesses and boost the economy as well. The new gambling law does not permit locals to enter these casinos as only foreigners will be allowed to gamble. They will have to show their passports for identification and also remit taxes on any winnings.
Casino operators who let locals gamble will be fined or have their license revoked and face potential closure. Local businesses who wish to establish a casino will have to apply for a gaming license and pay taxes based on the Union Tax Law.
Myanmar has struggled to sustain their tourism industry as they only depend on culture-based and economy-based tourism. Meanwhile, countries like Vietnam and the Philippines have legalized gambling and make millions of dollars each year. Myanmar has felt the need to follow suit and should have a legalized casino industry up and running within the next couple of years.