The Public Affairs Management Committee submitted the Gambling Bill 2018 to Pyithu Hluttaw on August 21. If the bill, which includes amendments the 1986 Gambling Act, is accepted by the hluttaw, foreigner-only casinos will likely be permitted to operate in Myanmar.
The benefits of the casino business are expected to be two-fold, as it will not only bring more tourists and tax revenues. The casinos are also expected to draw more foreign currency into the country at a time when a shortage of US dollars is driving down the value of the kyat.
Currently, gambling businesses are banned in Myanmar. “But once the hluttaw approves the amended bill, casinos will be allowed to open in Myanmar,” said U Aung Hlaing Win, an MP from Mingaladon township
He added that due to the needs of the economy, there is “no time” to write a new legistlation and that rules and bylaws to the existing bill will be added once amendments to the legislation is approved and enforced.
U Kyaw Soe Lin, secretary of the Bill Committee, said the casinos will likely be opened near the Myanmar border areas to attract more foreigners from neighbouring Thailand and China.
However, the casinos are strictly out of bounds for locals. Meanwhile, opening casinos in tourist hotspots steeped in culture and heritage such as Bagan will be prohibited.
“Only foreigners will be allowed into the casinos. As such, the government will target areas with the most foreigners, such as near the border,” said U Aung Hlaing Win.
“The passing of the 2018 Gambling Law will enable a whole new sector to flourish and draw much needed taxes and foreign currency into the country,” he said.
U Aung Hlaing Win pointed out that Macau, the only territory of China where gambling is legal, has a budget surplus that is five times Myanmar’s deficit. If the casino business is permitted, the Myanmar government will receive income from casino licenses as well as taxes on winners and casino operators, which will help it offset part of the budget deficit, expected to hit K4.9 trillion this year.