Casinos to be legalized under new gambling law in May

Casinos will soon be allowed to legally operate in Myanmar with the 2018 Gambling Law to be enacted in May, according to the Myanmar Times.

The new law, which was passed by the Lower House of Parliament last year, is now in the process of being approved in Parliament, which will resume after Thingyan in April.

The new gambling law was jointly drafted by the Ministry for Union Government Office and the Ministry of Home Affairs with the aim to boost tourism as well as tax revenues.

Currently, Myanmar and Thailand are the only two countries in Southeast Asia that do not have casinos.

“We are left behind as most of our neighbors have casinos. If the casino operators don’t come here, they will go to other countries,” said U Aung Hlaing Win, Pyithu Hluttaw MP for Mingaladon constituency.

The measures are also expected to attract more tourists, with some figures indicating only around 270,000 tourists visit the country annually. Political unrest and insurgent uprisings have hit visitor arrivals.

Two legitimate casinos currently operate at island resorts Tha Htay Island and Yadana Island, near Kawthaung in the far south of Myanmar, which were set up under a pilot scheme by the military junta in the 1990s.

The new law envisages a situation where casinos operate alongside a hotel and are open to foreign nationals only.