Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has given the green light for almost 200 casinos across the country to reopen, provided they meet certain COVID-19 safety measures as approved by the Ministry of Health.
The decision to allow casinos to open again, coming more than three months after gaming operations were first suspended on 1 April, was made during a weekly Cabinet meeting on Friday following a recent stabilization in COVID-19 cases in the Southeast Asian nation.
Operators will be asked to make an official request to the Ministry of Health, including a detailed list of coronavirus prevention measures, before being allowed to reopen.
Among the Cambodian casinos set for relaunch is NagaWorld, with operator NagaCorp announcing late Sunday night that it has executed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Health to open its VIP and slot machine segments this Wednesday 8 July.
“On 4 July 2020, a technical team of the Ministry of Health had conducted a physical site inspection of the casino premises of NagaWorld and concluded that the Company is in compliance with requirements of the health rules and also with the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) as set by the Ministry of Health in the prevention of the spread of COVID-19,” NagaCorp said.
“As a result, a Certificate of Clearance was issued in favor of the Company and consent was given to the Company to reopen the VIP and Slot Gaming Machines businesses.”
In a facebook post announcing the decision, government spokesman Phay Siphan said all casinos would be allowed to operate “bet and machine games only.”
Siphan also hinted at some progress on Cambodia’s long-awaited draft gaming bill – officially called the Law on the Management of Integrated Resorts and Commercial Gambling – which aims to enhance regulation of the industry, stating that the Prime Minister had “approved and adjusted some words” of the bill.
Director General of the General Department of Financial Industry for the Cambodia’s Ministry of Economy and Finance, Mey Vann, previously said the bill was vital “to ensure the (casino) industry will be developed in the proper manner and also of course to meet the government target for tourist attractions.
“Investment is a must to help our economy grow stronger, more diversified and also for changing the country’s reputation for the image of attracting the high-standard operators of IRs,” he said.