Illegal Gambling Operations in Cambodia on Notice Amid Government Crackdown
Cambodia has been trying to eradicate its reputation as a lawless country, especially when it comes to gambling. Efforts are underway to prevent human trafficking and illegal gambling operations, and a new call from a high-ranking government official hopes to keep the momentum going.
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.
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.
Time to Act
Cities like Sihoukanville have become meccas for illegal activity and several recent, high-profile cases of human trafficking and kidnapping are forcing Cambodia to act. The crimes have made international headlines and even attracted the attention of the United Nations.
Phearun points out that regional governments aren’t doing their part to stop illegal gambling. Stores, cafes, and other commercial venues allow unfettered access.
There are also more illegal casinos than there are legal operations in the country. Phearun asserts that there are 140 casinos in Cambodia, but only 60 have licenses.
It’s possible that there are even more. If Cambodia knows there are 80 illegal casinos, it has to know where they are. Therefore, others could exist that have been able to avoid detection.
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.
Now is a good time for Cambodian leaders at all levels to show they want to protect human rights and the country’s laws. The general elections are coming in less than a year and, while some politicians are safe, others face removal.
Stopping illegal gambling and human trafficking is a huge task, especially amid allegations of widespread corruption and bribery. There is, however, still hope improvements will come.
Law enforcement in Phnom Penh arrested 11 people for their role in an illegal gambling outfit last Friday. They were allegedly running 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 over 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.
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