Mongolia Looks to Casinos to Boost Tourism Industry

1 month ago
Mongolia Looks to Casinos to Boost Tourism Industry
11 Feb

Mongolia is once again rolling the dice in the hope of establishing its first casino in more than two decades. The country, largely dependent on mining, is looking for ways to diversify its economy and boost growth as it faces headwinds, including a 22% loss in the value of its currency over the past 12 months and a drop in GDP to 2.5% after being in double digits just a decade ago.

A brief search for casino free bets for the UK 2023 will yield plenty of results today but Mongolia doesn’t feature much at all. With a casino bill passing through various parliament committees, the Mongolian government is excited at the possibility of the country becoming a new casino tourism destination.

Could Mongolia Become a New Casino Tourism Destination?

The Mongolian government has declared the years 2023-2025 as the “years to visit” Mongolia and is pushing for the casino concept as a way to attract foreign visitors to make bets on slot machines and at poker tables after visiting the open steppes of the Mongolian countryside.

As a growing number of Asian countries opened casinos over the past two decades, mainly catering to Chinese gamblers, Mongolia started to take notice. The Philippines, Singapore, Cambodia, and Malaysia are just a few of the countries that have gone down the casino route to boost revenue.

However, there are concerns about the social impacts of gambling and the government’s decision to ban Mongolian citizens from entering casinos in their own country. This provision is similar to restrictions in Monaco and South Korea, where citizens are banned in all but one of its 23 casinos.

This restriction has been met with criticism from some, who argue that it may conflict with the country’s constitution and be discriminatory. However, Bolortuya Ulziibat, managing partner at Ulaanbaatar-based Tsogt & Nandin law firm, believes that most Mongolians may actually support the restriction, as casinos have had a negative reputation in Mongolia since the late 1990s and the public remains sceptical of legalised gambling.

If passed, the new law would allow authorities to issue casino operating licenses for 30 years, with half of the casino shares required to be transferred to the government upon expiration of the license. The operator’s license can then be extended an additional 10 years, but the law would prohibit the transfer of a casino license to another company after it has been issued.

Massive Investment

The minimum investment required by the government is $300 million, which would provide a much-needed boost to the country’s tourism sector. Mongolia would apply a tax rate of 40% on profits, equal to what is currently required of casinos in Macau, with a portion of the revenues going back into tourism development with all transactions passing through Mongolian banks.

The plan is to set up a 1,000-hectare free trade zone in Khushigt Valley, next to New Ulaanbaatar International Airport. The zone, set up last year and approved by Parliament, is located 50 km south of the capital and protects whoever jumps in first, allowing that operator a five-year monopoly before licenses would be made available to other companies.

Zolbayar Enkhbaatar, editor-in-chief of the financial newsletter Inside Mongolia, batted away criticism by arguing that casinos will help boost the economy and previous failures to pass a casino law should not deter legislators. With a majority of members in the Standing Committee supporting the motion to continue discussions of the law in Parliament, Mongolia is betting big on casinos as a path towards economic growth and diversification.

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Mark from London in the UK is a professional cash game player, and part time journalist. A massive chess fan and perpetual traveller.Read more


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