Myanmar states and regions are seeking permission for the operation of casinos at local hotels, according to media reports from local news outlets. Five state chief ministers met Myanmar Vice President Henry Van Thio in late December to discuss the matter and potentially convince the high ranking lawmaker of the benefits from legalized casino gambling.
Under the country’s Gambling Law from 1986, the operation of casino gambling services is strictly prohibited. However, local authorities have been trying to combat illegal gambling operations in different parts of the nation for years now, and quite unsuccessfully.
Talking to local news outlet The Myanmar Times, the Myanmar Tourism Federation Chair Yan Win said that the country’s Ministry of Home Affairs is currently in talks to amend certain laws and if successful, these talks could lead to the legalization of casino gambling. More information on the matter is yet to be revealed. What is more, the Vice President is also yet to comment on the state officials’ request for changes in the existing gambling law.
Proponents of the casino gambling idea have pointed out that facilities of this type could boost Myanmar’s tourism rates as they could attract high roller casino patrons from the Asia-Pacific region.
Khin Zaw, advisor of the Myanmar Hospitality and Tourism Minister, was cited saying that package tours from different Asian markets, including China, South Korea, and Japan, have seen a substantial increase of 20%. According to casino supporters, gambling venues at hotels in key areas across the country could further enhance that figure.
They have also explained that a number of countries in the Asia-Pacific region have been expanding their casino industries over the past several years and have managed to capitalize on that expansion. It has also been suggested that if legalized, Myanmar’s casino venues would only be available to foreign tourists so that no negative impacts arise from expanded gambling for the country’s residents.
The casino expansion proposal emerged at a time when Myanmar lawmakers are discussing opportunities for improving and growing the nation’s tourism industry in a manner that would make it more attractive to visitors from high-end Asia-Pacific markets.
Gambling Expansion in the Asia-Pacific Region
Casino construction activity has been blossoming in the region over the past decade or so. Aside from Macau, which is indisputably the largest gambling hub not just in Asia but also in the world, a number of other countries have also been expanding their casino industries by building multi-purpose integrated resorts with both extensive gaming and non-gaming offering.
The Philippines has started a project in the heart of the capital Manila that will see the opening of four integrated resorts by early 2020s. Three of the resorts have already opened doors as part of what has been branded Entertainment City.
South Korea will also see the opening of several integrated resorts in the coming years in addition to its existing gambling properties, while Japan legalized casino gambling last year to start the process of regulating its nascent casino industry and opening up to two integrated resorts by 2025.
Robert Johnson is an experienced web author and blogger. He has over three years of experience as a freelance journalist and writer.