The Kingdom of Cambodia has officially banned online gambling in the country, and its prime minister, Hun Sen, has ordered an immediate halt of all iGaming activities until further notice.
This decision has prompted a mass migration of Chinese nationals, both tourists and workers, which have been accused for the increased rate of crimes within the territory.
Hun Sen’s directive to ban arcade gambling is an attempt to bring back order in the country, as many licensed online gambling operators “rig their games and threaten those who are not able to repay” their debt.
The other reason is that Cambodia must not rely on iGaming to bring in foreign tax revenues. Pursuant to Hun Sen, the country should develop its economy on the provision of services associated with local tourism.
Investigate, Obstruct, Ban
In the meantime, the law enforcement has been tasked with studying and blocking illegal gambling operators – something that Chinese authorities instantly greeted and supported. To clarify, all gambling activities in China are forbidden, which is why foreign operators mostly target gamblers from neighboring countries and create a flourishing unregulated sector along the way.
“Some foreigners have used this form of gambling to cheat victims inside and outside the country. The Royal Government has decided to stop issuing licenses for such operations within and from outside the Kingdom with immediate effect,” commented Hun Sen about the directive.
A Record Number of Departures
According to a local newspaper, there is an increased number of people leaving the Kingdom of Cambodia because of the gambling ban. From August 18th until September 7th, the authorities have recorded 140,000 departures of Chinese citizens, and the number of those leaving is still on the rise.
The government is convinced that the number of Chinese nationals in the country will remain stable, while the online gambling ban should affect positively on the crime rate in the country. Unfortunately, many citizens got involved in kidnapping and extortion and by banning internet casinos, Cambodia’s security should be significantly improved.
In the previous months, the police have arrested more than 120 Chinese nationals who were linked with illegal gambling activities and extortion. This is why the prime minister decided to immediately put a grinding halt on iGaming in the country.
“Some foreign criminals have taken refuge in the form of gambling to cheat and extort money from victims, domestic and abroad,” added Hun Sen.
As reported by the Finance Ministry’s Financial Industry Department, there are 163 licensed online casinos in the country and 91 gaming hubs are based in Preah Sihanouk province, known for raids and recent arrests of local loan sharks.
Interior Ministry spokesman fully supports the government’s measure, since gambling causes a lot of concern in the country and brings very little income. By now, the authorities have deported more than 3,000 Chinese citizens and online gamblers are not welcome anymore, adds General Khieu Sopheak.
“Gambling ban driving Chinese nationals away from Cambodia”, Khmer Times, bangkokpost.com, September 10, 2019.