News just is that casinos in Cambodia have been asked by local authorities to halt their online gambling businesses before January 1, 2020, or otherwise face legal action. On 25th December 2019, VOA Cambodia quoted an official from the Ministry of Finance, Ros Phearun, saying that the government would carry out mandatory inspections for all local casinos.
This would be in compliance with the directive of the Prime Minister, Hun Sen, to recall all online gambling licenses by the time 2019 comes to a close. In August, Hun Sen made it known to the public that the government would no longer renew licenses for online gambling businesses and that the existing ones would not be renewed once they expired at the end of the year. Many thought this is just a bluff.
However, this past weekend, Hun Sen again gave a statement saying that the directive was serious and it has to be adhered to. According to calvinayre.com, come 2020, online gambling in Cambodia would be a thing of the past. Obviously, this would be a big blow to the companies that have invested greatly to stay and run online.
Recently, Phearun, who is the government’s go-to person when it comes to gambling matters, echoed the prime minister saying that the ban was aimed at reducing money laundering in the country.
Money laundering has become a headache for the government with many of the launderers turning to online gambling as their scapegoat. He also added that the country did not have the appropriate technology required to monitor the casinos to ensure they were complying with the set regulations.
Over the past two years, many of the new casino licenses issued have been for the Chinese in Sihanoukville. Despite this, local authorities will have no other option but to ensure what is set by the government is followed to the letter.
This means that even these casinos will be closely monitored. Phearun told local media that there were 141 casinos in business in Cambodia. This is a decline from the 163 casinos in June, 89 of which were carrying out online gambling.
This has been seen as a possible exodus by the Chinese after the directive by the prime minister. He added that each casino will be inspected by a joint committee and that any of them found bridging the law will get penalized or even their certificate of operation revoked. They will not wait for January to start the crackdown but will start on the night of December 31. Any casino found guilty will face legal action as well as revocation of their license.
Most of the Cambodians seem okay with the new law. However, a few feel that the government does not have what it takes to ensure the law is followed. Part of the reason is that a casino in Sihanoukville continued with business as usual for three months even after it was closed down for pumping sewage into the sea.