Cambodia Online Gambling Ban Leaves Thousands Jobless

  • Cambodia announced an online gambling ban in August, takes effect on January 1, 2020
  • Dozens of casinos have closed since the announcement was made, more than 7,700 jobs lost
  • Government will lose out on approximately $20m in tax revenue each year
unemployed male looking upset on steps
More than 7,700 Cambodians have lost their jobs since a ban on online gambling was introduced in August, with more job losses expected to be announced this week. [Image:]

More than 7,700 jobs lost

Dozens of gambling facilities in Cambodia have closed their doors since the online gambling ban was announced in August. This has resulted in more than 7,700 locals losing their jobs, with many more expected to follow.

All online gambling licenses will expire at the end of 2019 and no licenses will be renewed. Government officials will begin carrying out inspections when the ban takes effect on January 1, 2020. The purpose of these inspections is to ensure that all online operations have been shut down.

foreign criminals have been using online gambling sites to launder and extort money

Any facility found to be operating online gambling sites will face legal action and may be stripped of their retail casino license.

According to Cambodia’s prime minister, Hun Sen, this is set to be a permanent ban on online gambling. The initial word of a halt in August gave operators hope that the ban would be temporary. However, Sen says that foreign criminals have been using online gambling sites to launder and extort money. 

Government will lose millions

As online gambling was big business in Cambodia, the government will take a significant hit. According to Ros Phearun, a deputy director-general in the Finance Ministry, about $20m of the $80m in casino tax revenue was generated from online sources each year. 

The prime minister believes that it will only be a short-term blow to the local economy. He believes that getting rid of crime relating to gambling will help to attract more foreign investors seeking to create large-scale gambling projects in the country. 

According to Phearun, a large number of casinos have closed since August, with only 136 facilities remaining open by December. He believes that this figure will drop to around 94 casinos when inspections begin in January.

Sihanoukville was one of the main hubs for gambling in Cambodia. This is a coastal city in the south of the country, near to the border with China. Many online gambling sites are operated by Chinese nationals in this city.

It has been widely reported that Sihanoukville has been hit hard by Cambodia’s online gambling ban. There were more than 70 casinos operating in the area. Only 36 casinos remain. 

Significant job losses

Commenting on those who operated online gambling sites in the country, Phearun said: “When the online gambling was banned, they went back to their country, then there is a decline of casinos.”

Yov Khemara, the director of the labor department in Sihanoukville, said that over 7,700 locals have lost their jobs as a result of this ban. He went on to say:

Before, they worked in factories and when there was better salary in casinos, they came to work in casinos.”

With this online gambling ban taking effect, these people are now going back to work in local factories. 

Demand for gambling in Cambodia

Gambling has really taken off in Cambodia in recent years. Many casino licenses have been issued, allowing for both retail and online gambling services. This resulted in Cambodia becoming the second-largest online gambling hub in the Asia-Pacific region. The Philippines being the largest. 

A lot of these online gambling sites were targeting people in mainland China. Gambling in all forms is banned on mainland China. As a result, authorities in Beijing have called on the Philippines and Cambodia to ban online gambling.

While Cambodia seemingly complied with this request, the Philippines has so far refused to do so. 

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