A joint committee composed of Finance and Interior Ministry officials, National Police and National Military Police officers have continued clamping down online and arcade gambling licensed casinos in the Kingdom after the ban took effect on Jan 1.
In August last year, Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a directive banning all online and arcade gambling in the Kingdom because some licenced operations rigged their games and threatened those who were not able to repay gambling debts.
Major General Chuon Narin, police chief of Preah Sihanouk province, where most of the casinos were located said yesterday, authorities are now searching online gambling operations conducted in apartments and rental houses as well.
“We have cooperated with the Interior Ministry’s anti-commercial gambling department, Economy Ministry’s financial industry department and local authorities to enforce the ban in all casinos in the province. We have ordered casino employers to cease their online or arcade gambling operations, ”Maj Gen Narin said.
He said that he could not say how many gambling outlets were found operating illegally.
“After the ban, we have noted that most of the casinos here became bankrupt,” he said. “However, we will keep inspecting their premises to see if they continued to operate without permission.”
Maj Gen Narin said that police last week cracked down on four illegal gambling outlets allegedly owned by Chinese nationals in Sihanoukville.
According to a police report, more than 50 employees and gamblers, most of whom are Chinese, were detained but released after being questioned. Police confiscated 60 slot machines and 1,300 gaming tokens.
Lieutenant General Sieng Seng, director of the Interior Ministry’s anti-commercial gambling department, declined to comment yesterday but he previously told Khmer Times, 91 casinos volunteered to cease their online gambling operations.
Khun Tharo, a programme manager for Alliance of Labour and Human Rights, said yesterday authorities should also inspect apartments and rental houses to clamp down on gambling.
“I think authorities should disclose the results of their crackdown,” Mr Tharo said. “They should extend their inspection to other provinces along the borders such as in Bavet city in Svay Rieng province, Poipet city, Malai district in Banteay Meanchey province and in Phnom Penh.”
Preh Sihanouk provincial labour department early this month said that banning online and arcade gambling has left nearly 8,000 people unemployed after 33 casinos suspended all operations and 23 others completely shut down.
According to Maj Gen Narin, 36 Chinese nationals and 20 Cambodian were arrested in a crackdown on illegal gambling last week in the province.