Forty Swim to Vietnam to Escape Exploitation by Cambodian Casino

  • Five women and 35 men fled the casino across a river back to native Vietnam
  • The casino allegedly forced the employees to work overtime with no pay or rest
  • Workers could return to Vietnam if they paid the casino up to US$30,000
  • Authorities have rescued over 250 exploited casino workers between January and June
Cambodian flag on map
Forty people employed by an alleged predatory casino in Cambodia escaped last week by swimming a across a river back to their native Vietnam. [Image:]

Mass escape

Over 40 employees have fled from a Cambodian casino, complete with swimming across a river to Vietnam.

employer mistreated them

Vietnam’s VnExpress International cited An Giang Province border guards as reporting the incident on Thursday. The escapees claimed their employer mistreated them at the casino in Sampeou Poun commune in Cambodia’s Kandal Province.

The mass dash to freedom included a swim across the river that separates Cambodia from Vietnam, the Binh Di. VnExpress said the escapees claimed to have started out with 42 people, but that the river had taken one, while the casino owners got the other.

The news source verified that Vietnamese authorities have arrested five women and 35 men for illegally entering Vietnam. An officer at the Long Binh border gate, Major Le Ngoc Tuan, said the identities of the 40 people have yet to be verified.

Human exploitation

According to Vietnam News, the 42 are all Vietnamese nationals. They claim to have left for Cambodia purposely to work at a casino.

forced the employees to work overtime with no pay or rest

While they got jobs working on online games and social media, the casino owners allegedly forced the employees to work overtime with no pay or rest.

The combination triggered the 40 to enter illegally back into their homeland. Video footage from VnExpress shows the mass breakout from a building down into the river, pursued by security detail with whips. Authorities verified that some escapees had received minor injuries and were getting medical attention. One of the original 42 that didn’t make it was a male teen caught by the casino staff.

The An Giang Border Guard Command is organizing the search for the person swept away by the river.

Cambodian sham

Vietnamese media has reported that casinos in Cambodia and elsewhere hoodwink many nationals into leaving home by luring them with the promise of a paying job. Once under a predatory casino owner’s roof, the workers often get exploited. Authorities also report that the casinos will allow the Vietnamese to return home on one condition — paying the captors up to US$30,000.

VnExpress reports that in the first six months of 2022, Vietnamese and Cambodian authorities have teamed up to rescue over 250 exploited casino workers.

The southeast Asia region is no stranger to what are basically slave-staffed casinos. In May, a woman also swam a river to Cambodia’s neighbor Thailand to escape a Burmese slaver casino. She reported that another 300 Thai women were being held as sex slaves in a casino on the Thailand-Myanmar border.

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