‘It’s 4am and most people are sound asleep. A TV glows in the living room showing a football game. The person watching knows it’s not a good idea to stay up so late but continues to watch – not because it’s his team but because he’s placed a bet.
Gambling on football has become popular around the world and Cambodia is no exception, despite the fact it’s against the law. So how do they still bet? Online of coarse.
“I hoped I would win lots of money, but the reason I quit was because the longer I played the more I lost,” says Mr Hong (not his real name), a 24-year old supervisor at a private company who is also a gambling addict.
He hopes that the next generation will not try this kind of gambling, believing it is a useless activity that everyone should quit.
An old Khmer sayings states, “In gambling, the chance goes around and comes around.” Perhaps not understanding this, many youngsters believe that gambling, especially on football, is a way they can earn lots of money.
Mr Dy’s (not his real name) gambling on football forced him to pawn his father’s phone and his own motorbike. Once because of huge loss, he borrowed $3,000 from his friends by telling them that his mother was undergoing surgery. He was also sued, but everything was settled out of court, thanks his family’s intervention.
“If you lose a horse, use another horse to catch up” is another adage, and one apt for addicted gamblers like Mr Dy. “If you of lose $100, another $100 is needed to for a winning chance,” he adds.
The 28-year old used to believe; big bet, big win. Meaning he had to bet big to win big. Though in the end not only did he not win big he also lost the money he had.
Though Mr Dy said he found online betting more complex then normal betting, a student from a university in Phnom Penh who asked not to be named disagreed, saying it was more convenient.
He admitted to losing between $1,000 to $2,000 and a few phones including his own iPhone 4 but said he thought online betting was an individual right and if the government regulated it would make a lot of money from it.
According to the Cambodian Law on the Suppression of Gambling, which was adopted by National Assembly in 1996, any kind of activities involving betting is illegal, even if the process is online.
Mr KhieuSopheak, a spokesman for the Ministry of Interior said, “We had to get rid of these kinds of things and have arrested the suspects. If we didn’t, our country would face anarchy.”
Mr Kem Ley, an independent researcher, said to fight gambling the government need strengthen their ability to investigate, to improve human recourses and ensure that they are properly paid and qualified, to make sure the legal system can be trusted to provide justice and to prevent officials from being involved.
Hun Keoveasna & Hean Socheata