Gambling operators comply with new Cambodian laws

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
Cambodian casino allowed to reopen despite local virus infections

Cambodia’s casinos are observing the country’s newly implemented online gambling ban, according to government officials.

Calvin Ayre reports that last Wednesday, the Ministry of Finance official Ros Phearun said all of its 91 casinos that had been offering online gambling had ceased those operations on January 1, in accordance with the directive issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen in August.

Phearun said a joint committee consisting of government officials, police officers and military police had conducted inspections of all 91 casinos since the online gambling licence revocation took effect.

These inspections will continue for the foreseeable future to ensure that no casinos attempt to restart their online offering once the media focus shifts.

Phearun said there are now 118 licensed casinos in Cambodia, a significant reduction from the day before Christmas, when there were 141 casinos.

Around 70 casinos were based in Preah Sihanouk province, but by December 31, Phearun told Reuters that there were now only 36.

Yov Khemara, director of Preah Sihanouk’s labour department said that 33 local casinos have suspended their operations follow Hun Sen’s August directive and another 22 casinos had shut down completely.

Countrywide, around 7,000 individuals are believed to have lost their jobs after news of the online gambling ban circulated.

Those lots jobs pale in comparison to the 447,676 Chinese nations that Cambodia’s General Department of Immigration claim left the country follow August’s online gambling directive.

In September, Chinese officials had dismissed claims of an exodus, saying the number of ex-pats fleeing was around 5000.

Phearun said this week that some of the casinos that were still open were taking a wait-and-see approach for “one or two months to see if they can make earnings” without online gambling revenue.

Phearun doesn’t hold out hope that many of these shaky operations will make it, saying the government “believe that more casinos will cease their businesses” or go underground.

Some local activists believe many online gambling operations will simply move from casinos to rented houses or other nondescript venues.

The authorities have also been urged not to limit their inspections to Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh but to also keep a close eye on the special economic zones on the country’s borders with Vietnam and Thailand.

Casino closes in March

In March, officials ordered the closure of the Jin Ding Hotel and Casino following multiple complaints that the resort was flushing raw sewage straight into the sea.

First reported in March, Cambodian officials ordered the closure of the casino.

It had recently opened on Koh Rong Samloen Island and was forced to shut from March 22 after failing to follow a range of official guidelines.

The property is said to have ignored development restrictions and promoted illegal online betting games, according to local media reports.

The property is owned by Chinese national Zhou Jianhua via his company 168 Jinding International Entertainment Co Ltd.

“The casino’s owner had the building constructed on the beach too close to the sea and violated some terms and conditions,” a local government spokesman said.

“We ordered [the owner] to completely close it on March 22 in order for his staff to find other jobs.

“We are not closing it immediately – we have instructed him on many occasions but he failed to comply with our directives.”

The closure comes after 77 families filed complaints, which led to a working group inspecting the property.

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