According to government officials, Cambodia’s casinos are abiding by the country’s new online gambling ban.
On Wednesday, the Khmer Times quoted Ros Phearun, Ministry of Finance official, saying as of January 1, all of the 91 casinos in the country which had been offering online gambling had stopped those operations, in line with the order issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen last August.
As reported by calvinayre.com, Phearun said, since the online gambling license cancellation took effect a joint committee involving government officials, police officers and military police had conducted inspections of all 91 casinos. To ensure that no casinos try to restart their online betting once the media focus shifts, these inspections will last for the foreseeable future.
According to Phearun there were 18 licensed casinos now in Cambodia, a substantial reduction from the day before Christmas, when Phearun said that there were 141 casinos. About 70 casinos were based in Preah Sihanouk province; however, by December 31, Phearun informed Reuters that there were only 36 now.
Director of Preah Sihanouk’s labor department, Yov Khemara, said that following Hun Sen’s August instruction, 33 local casinos had put off their operations and another 22 casinos had completely shut down. After news of the online gambling bar circulated, around 7k individuals countrywide, are thought to have lost their jobs.
Those 7k lost jobs fade in comparison to the 447,676 Chinese nationals that Cambodia’s General Department of Immigration say left the country after August’s online gambling order. Chinese officials had dismissed claims of a migration in September, saying the number of escaping ex-pats was just around 5k.
This week Phearun said that some of the casinos which were still open were waiting for “one or two months to see if they can make earnings” without online gambling income. Phearun doesn’t think that many of these unstable operations will make it, saying the government “believe that more casinos will cease their businesses.”
Or run silently. Some local activists think many online gambling operations will just move from casinos to rented houses or other unexceptional venues. The authorities have also been advised not to limit their inspections to Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh but to also to closely watch the special economic zones on the country’s borders with Vietnam and Thailand.
Cambodia’s online gambling injunction was widely regarded as a favor to China, on whose citizens most of the Cambodian online gambling operations depended for customers. China has been pressing for other Asia-Pacific nations to follow Cambodia’s footsteps; however, no country has been eager to go the whole hog yet.