Regions and States Seek Permission to Operate Casinos

FIVE regional and state chief ministers have sought permission to operate casinos in hotels in their respective territories during a meeting with Vice President U Henry Van Thio in Nay Pyi Taw in last month, according to U Yan Win, chair of Myanmar Tourism Federation.

The chief ministers from Mandalay, Tanintharyi, Shan, Kayin and Mon discussed about allowing casinos to operate in hotels, said U Yan Win, who was present at the meeting.

“The vice president didn’t response yet but it may happen later on,” he said.

During the meeting, Henry Van Thio, who is the chair of the central committee for the development of the National Tourism Industry, discussed with the regional officials policies related to the sale of alcohol in the excise law, tourism tax, issuing special visas to tourists and establishing an e-tourism working group.

“Most ASEAN countries legally allow casino gambling but it is still illegal in our country. That is why many chief ministers sought permission to operate casinos in hotels,” U Yan Win said.

He said allowing the operation of casinos in hotels would generate more income for the regional governments, just like in other ASEAN countries.

According to the 1986 Gambling Law, casino gambling is still banned. But there are many casinos operating illegally in Tanintharyi Region and Shan State as well.

Hotels in Tachilek, Myawady, Thahtay Kyu in Tanintharyi Region and Kawthaung, as well as Mong La Region in Shan State, are especially notorious for illegal casinos.

These areas are located in the Chinese border town in Yunnan province and Mae Sai, a border town of Thailand.

“The Ministry of Home Affairs is trying to amend some laws. If they will make changes in the current gambling law, casinos can be allowed to operate legally. Currently, this issue is still under discussion,” U Yan Win said.

The Myanmar Police Force  have no idea on how to  amend the 1986 Gambling Law and that is why it will still actively enforce the law, U Aung Myint Soe, Police Lieutenant Colonel of Myanmar Police Force told The Myanmar Times yesterday.

“We have no plan yet to amend this gambling law. But we don’t know about Hluttaw committee. It might make changes because they have the right to amend the law if they want to,” he said.

U  Khin Zaw, advisor of Union Minister of Hotel and Tourism, said current package tours from the Western and European countries were down between 10 and 15 percent, but Asian markets, including Japan, China and South Korea, rose by 20pc.

“Casinos usually cater to high-end markets, mostly the upmarket travelers from Taiwan, Japan and Thailand, rather than European and Western countries,” he said.

“If they open up casino gambling in hotels, foreign tourists’ arrival and income would increase. But they should systematically restrict the law for local people,” U Khin Zaw added.

“Opening casino gambling for tourists has a more positive impact than negative one and we have submitted our requests to the relevant authorities. I hope they will consider it since operating casinos for tourists has many potential upsides for industry,” he said.


Source: The Myanmar Times


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