Cambodian Casinos Increasingly Exploiting Vietnamese for Slave Labor

Posted on: July 11, 2022, 10:58h. 

Last updated on: July 11, 2022, 07:17h.

There have been a number of reports lately that illegal online casinos in Cambodia engage in human trafficking to fill their workforces through slave labor. In spite of an insistence by the Cambodian government that it would crack down on the activity, it appears to be increasing.

Human trafficking victim in Cambodia
A human trafficking victim in Cambodia looks out from behind a cage window. Human trafficking, especially for illegal casino activity, continues in the country. (Image: International Labour Association)

It is thought that the number of Vietnamese who are being illegally recruited in Cambodia to work in the country is on the rise, according to media outlet VN Express. Authorities in Vietnam recently detained seven people for sending 200 Vietnamese to Cambodia.

The seven were trying to broker an illegal border crossing for the workers in order to collect commissions. For each person they sent, they were paid just VND300,000 (US$12.84).

The media outlet reported that initial police investigations revealed that the seven met a man in Cambodia via social media who wanted workers for his business. They then tricked people online, telling them that they would send them to Tay Ninh in Vietnam for a job with high wages.

Instead, they sent them across the border to Cambodia. It is believed that they sent around 200 people across the border this year. There are also a number of victims from Malaysia.

Human Trafficking in Cambodia Continues

The report outlines the tactics of the trafficking gangs. It says brokers use photos of posh and expensive-looking buildings in Cambodia and parties to lure Vietnamese workers with salaries higher than they could ever expect to make normally. But, far too often, they find innocent victims who are looking for a better life.

Nguyen Van Chien, 19 is one of the victims. Police rescued him and learned that he was approached first by another 19-year-old about possible job opportunities in Cambodia.

Chien had known the individual for seven years. He told him about a position with a monthly income of $500-$1,000. The average salary in Vietnam is VND6.1 million (US$261.14).

The company stated would handle all travel arrangements and costs. But when Chien arrived, he discovered that his job was actually to lure people into playing online poker games.

Chien worked on a multi-story office block, where his floor had about 300 employees, mainly Vietnamese. Chien told authorities that many of the victims had been brutally beaten and had electric batons used on them.

Daily Hell

The second floor of the building where Chien worked contained a punishment room for employees who tried to escape, refused to perform their tasks, or confronted their boss. On more than one occasion, he could hear his fellow victims moaning in pain from the torture.

Chien worked between 13 and 15 hours a day. In addition, he would receive fines or punishment if he did not meet the target or attempted to resist.

Quitters had to pay VND120-150 million (US$5,100 to $6,400) to earn their freedom. In addition, anyone who tried to flee or report to the police was subject to retaliation.

Chien claimed that one employee died from exhaustion after being with the company for just over a month. This led to a police investigation, but it apparently wasn’t effective. Finally, Chien and many others were able to return home to Vietnam on April 29.

Illegal Gambling Rampant in Cambodia

Tran Chi Duy was another victim. He had spent months working in a Cambodian casino. He claimed that a friend had told him about an easy job in Cambodia. Duy accepted the job before traveling to Cambodia after the Lunar New Year earlier this year. Later, he was sold to a casino manager near the border for $2,700.

Duy worked as a waiter in that casino for three months before he was told that he had been sold to another casino for $4,600. He was then given phones and computers to lure customers to an online casino.

Duy received no money; his entire salary went towards his living expenses on the orders of his boss. When he and a friend told the manager later that they wanted to go back to Vietnam, they had to pay VND140 million (US$5,993) or they would be sold to another casino.

He then called his family to ask for help. To raise the funds, his family mortgaged their home.

Police in Vietnam have charged eight people with defrauding and trafficking Cambodian victims. However, in Cambodia, human trafficking is still out of control. Despite joint efforts between Vietnam and Cambodia that have repatriated a number of Vietnamese nationals, hundreds more are still at risk.