Cambodia Authorities Raid 10,000+ Venues in Illegal Gambling Crackdown

  • Law enforcement has taken formal legal action against 127 premises and 273 people
  • The nationwide operation took place between September 15 and October 13
  • Prime Minister Hun Sen recently ordered a crackdown against illegal gambling
  • Increasing cases of human trafficking and kidnappings contributed to the crackdown
Police car lights
Cambodian police have raided more than 10,000 premises as part of the country’s major crackdown on illegal gambling. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A major operation

Police in Cambodia raided more than 10,000 premises as part of a crackdown on illegal gambling. National Police spokesperson Lieutenant General Chhay Kim Khoeun revealed that legal action has been taken against 127 of the locations that were subject to a raid. The entire nationwide operation took place between September 15 and October 13.

a big push to combat these types of enterprises

The country has been rife with Illegal gambling operations; Prime Minister Hun Sen recently ordered a big push to combat these types of enterprises. He even went so far as to say that any provincial or capital governor found to be responsible for allowing illegal gambling to spread could be subject to dismissal.

Not turning a blind eye

In all, the Cambodian authorities have gathered sufficient evidence in their recent operations to build a case and to go to court against 273 individuals. There are 56 non-Cambodia nationals as part of that group, covering 11 different countries. Lieutenant General Khoeun noted that many of the raided locations could not be charged because of insufficient hard evidence. However, the people who own these premises had to sign a contract that stated they would no longer take part in any form of illegal gambling enterprise.

Online gambling was once legal in Cambodia, but an order took effect in January 2020 that banned all forms of online gambling in the nation. There are also licensed land-based casinos dotted around the country. Many more illegal gambling establishments have popped up, though, creating widespread havoc in the industry.

For a long time, law enforcement was not willing to properly crack down on these issues. Head of Research and Advocacy of the Cambodian Youth Network (CYN) Heng Kimhong believes that illegal gambling leads to crime and social unrest.

Kidnapping, human trafficking increasing

There has been a large number of kidnappings and human trafficking related to the casino sector in the country, particularly recently. Last month, a video clip went viral of 60 Vietnamese workers fleeing from a casino in Cambodia where they were allegedly being held and exploited. A similar incident took place a few weeks earlier, with over 40 people escaping on that occasion.

Most forms of gambling are illegal in the countries that border Cambodia, which is why a lot of the illegal gambling establishments are found close to the borders and in tourism areas.

The authorities explained that many Vietnamese nationals are lured to Cambodia to work in the casino industry with the promise of big salaries. However, they often end up being victims of abuse and exploitation. On certain occasions, their captors even try to get ransom money from family members.