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

Last update on: September 14, 2022, 11:46 a.m.

Cambodia has tried 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 appeal from a senior government official hopes to keep the momentum going.

Cambodian Police
Cambodian police are raiding 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 step up efforts to end unauthorized gambling, according to the Khmer time. In particular, Ros Phearun, the secretary general of the Cambodian Gaming Regulatory Committee (GRC), adds more pressure.

Being part of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the GRC is only a few steps away from collaborating with other important government leaders. Through his close connections, Phearun hopes to convince regional leaders in Cambodia to shut down illegal gambling operations.

It’s time to act

Cities like Sihoukanville have become a Mecca for illegal activities and several recent high profile cases of human trafficking and abduction are compelling Cambodia to take action. These crimes made international headlines and even caught the attention of the United Nations.

Phearun points out that regional governments are not doing their part to stop illegal gambling. Shops, cafes and other commercial places allow unimpeded access.

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

It is possible that there are even more. If Cambodia knows there are 80 illegal casinos, it needs to know where they are. Therefore, there could be others that could have avoided being detected.

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

Now is the time for Cambodian leaders at all levels to show they want to protect human rights and the country’s laws. General elections are approaching in less than a year and, while some politicians are safe, others are at risk of being fired.

difficult challenge

Stopping illegal gambling and human trafficking is a huge task, especially amid allegations of corruption and widespread bribery. There is still hope, however, that improvements will come.

Last Friday, law enforcement in Phnom Penh arrested 11 people for their role in an illegal gambling company. They reportedly run a local casino, which opened about a month ago.

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

Digital Economy and Society Minister Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn today reported that authorities are actively pursuing illegal gambling. They have been attacking unlicensed operators since 2020 and are finding success.

The last figure exceeds that of the first year. From September 2020 to August 2021, Thailand closed 1,259 sites. Although new sites may appear, this is still an important step in the right direction.