Myanmar moves forward with new gaming bill

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A bill that would authorise foreigners-only casinos in the South- east Asia state of Myanmar was submitted to the lower house of the country’s legislature on 21 August.

The Gambling Bill 2018 will reportedly include amendments to an existing statute, the Gambling Act 1986.

The Myanmar Times newspaper cited legislator Aung Hlaing Win, as clarifying that detailed rules and bylaws for the casino industry would be decided following the passage of the framework legislation.

“Only foreigners will be allowed into the casinos. As such, the government will target areas with the most foreigners, such as near the border,” he stated.
Kyaw Soe Lin, secretary of the committee set to analyse the bill, said border locations for foreigner-only casinos would help attract Thai and Chinese visitors.

At present, two Thailand-facing casinos currently operate at island resorts near Kawthaung in the country’s far south under permission granted by the military government in the 1990s.

In July 2015, the privately-owned Grand Andaman Islands Company was allowed by the Myanmar Investment Commission to take over one of these venues, the government-run Grand Andaman Resort located on the 1800-acre Thahtay island, and has committed to invest $12.14m.

“This pilot project to boost tourism over the past 20 years was started by the government itself,” said U Myo Win Than, executive director of Grand Andaman Resort, speaking to local media. “When we bought the resort in 2015, we were given a 50-year license to operate.”

“The government will legalise casinos as soon as possible after passing the new law in the national interest.”

Thai-facing casinos have also recently appeared along the border at Myawaddy in Kayin State, in south-eastern Myanmar. These venues are reportedly operated by the Kayin State Border Guard Force (BGF), with revenues used to raise funds for development projects.

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