Cambodia Illegal Gambling Operations Face Government Crackdown

Posted on: September 14, 2022, 11:34h. 

Last updated on: September 16, 2022, 05:02h.

Efforts are underway to prevent human trafficking and illegal gambling operations in Cambodia, and a new call from a high-ranking government official hopes to keep the momentum going.

Cambodian police
Cambodian police conduct a raid in Phnom Penh in 2021. The country continues to pressure local governments and law enforcement to crack down on illegal gambling. (Image: Cambodia News English)

The Cambodian government has asked each province to increase its efforts to stop unlicensed gambling, according to the Khmer Times. In particular, Ros Phearun, the secretary general of the Cambodian Gambling Regulatory Committee (GRC), is adding more pressure.

He says regional governments aren’t doing their part to stop illegal gambling and that stores, cafes, and other commercial venues allow unfettered access.

As part of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the GRC is only steps away from collaborating with other important government leaders. With his close connections, Phearun hopes he can convince regional leaders in Cambodia to shut out illegal gambling operations.

To help local authorities in their endeavors, Phearun and his team are creating new guidelines. These will better define what constitutes illegal gambling so law enforcement can target their efforts more efficiently.

Illegal Casinos Reign

There are more illegal casinos than legal operations in the country. Phearun asserts that there are 140 casinos in Cambodia, but only 60 have licenses.

Cities like Sihoukanville have become unofficial meccas for illegal activity, and several recent, high-profile human trafficking and kidnapping cases are forcing Cambodia to act. The crimes have made international headlines and even the United Nations’ attention.

Difficult Challenge

Stopping illegal gambling and human trafficking is a huge task, especially amid allegations of widespread corruption and bribery.

Last Friday, police in Phnom Penh arrested 11 people for their role in an illegal gambling outfit. They allegedly ran a local casino, which opened about a month ago.

One of the big problems in Cambodia is online gambling, which can be harder to track. If the country needs help in closing rogue online operators, it can always turn to Thailand, which shut down more than 2,800 illegal online gambling platforms in the past year.

The Minister of Digital Economy and Society, Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, reported today that authorities are actively pursuing illegal gaming. They have been going after unlicensed operators since 2020 and are finding success.

The latest figure exceeds that of the first year. From September 2020 to August 2021, Thailand shut down 1,259 sites. Although new sites may pop up, it’s still a significant step in the right direction.