Casino Tax Hike Included in Malaysia’s 2019 Budget Plan

New government considers casino tax hike economy grapples with financial scandals and growing budget deficit

Malaysia is aiming to mend its scandal-stricken economy and tackle a widening budget gap with higher license fees and tax rates for land-based casinos and slot machine operations, it became known today.

The planned changes were introduced today by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng. The official presented his first budged under the country’s new government. The new gaming license fees and taxes are part of a larger package of tax and other financial reforms that are focused on improving Malaysia’s economy amid turbulent times. Today’s announcement came as a confirmation to reports from last month that a new casino taxation structure was under consideration as the new administration has been tussling with a massive debt and a growing budget deficit.

The newly tabled budget plan is yet to be discussed by the Malaysian government, but if it gains the necessary traction, it will increase the annual casino license fee to MYR150 million from MYR120 million. In addition, land-based casinos will be taxed at 35% on gross income. Annual slot machine license fees are planned to go up to MYR50,000 from MYTR10,000, and the gaming devices will be taxed at 30% on gross proceeds. The slot machine tax rate currently stands at 20% on gross income.

New Taxation Regime Will Not Affect Genting Significantly

While it is too early to determine how gambling operations in Malaysia will be affected by the increased license fees and tax rate, analysts believe that at least one casino operator will not suffer a heavy blow from the new regime.

As mentioned earlier, first indications that a new tax structure was being debated by Malaysian lawmakers emerged last month. In separate notes on the matter, Nomura International and Maybank Kim Eng Research said back in October that gaming and hospitality giant Genting Malaysia will not see any major negative impact from the planned license fee and taxation changes.

Genting Malaysia currently operates the Resorts World Genting mountain hotel and casino resort. According to analysts, the planned opening of new attractions at the property will help it weather any reforms in the way casino services are taxed. The integrated resort is set to add new facilities in the first half of 2019, including the Skytropolis and 20th Century Fox World theme parks as well as 1,500 hotel rooms and multiple dining options.

Genting Malaysia has said that it targets 30 million visitors at its property by 2020 with the addition of the new facilities. Resorts World Genting received 22 million visitors last year.

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