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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Cambo Six seeks $12m from govt

Cambo Six seeks $12m from govt

Bookie says it wants govt to pay compensation for its forced closure

SPORTS betting centre Cambo Six suffered more than US$12 million in losses due to lost infrastructure investment from its sudden forced closure by the government and will ask the amount be compensated by the state, according to the company's head office manager Nancy Chau.

"We are hoping for compensation because we have suffered substantial losses from the closure," she said, saying the company has invested heavily in store space and human resources to operate all 20 of its stores.

Another victim of the recent closures, the Sporting Live Group, is also asking for government compensation for the premature end to its licence, according to an employee of the company who requested anonymity as the information had not been made public.

The government had promised to help the internet-based sports gambling chain recoup its losses, but had not specified the amount it would give, he said.

Chea Peng Chheang, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said there were ongoing negotiations for compensation, but he did not know which establishments were eligible.

The news came Wednesday, the same day Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission issued a statement calling on the government to bear the brunt of the costs to workers caused by its decision.

At the end of last month, Prime Minister Hun Sen abruptly ordered the closure of all sports-betting outlets and slot-machine parlours across the country, claiming they had been responsible for moral decline in the Kingdom.

Unlike the larger companies affected by the ban, the estimated 6,000 to 8,000 workers who lost their jobs have no clout to demand compensation, the statement said.

"They can do nothing other than to resign themselves to accepting the government's arbitrating decision," the group said. 

It said the move was especially harsh as job prospects are grim in the face of local contractions stemming from the global economic downturn.

The group argued that, as the government was responsible for ending the workers' employment, it must provide them compensation.

Under the 1997 Labour Law, workers with contracts of undetermined length must be compensated when, with no serious performance fault on their part, their contracts are abruptly cancelled.

Employers are required to give a notification of work contract severance seven days to three months in advance, depending on the length of the time the employee has been with the company. Failing to give such prior notification, employers must pay workers' salaries over the required notification period.

Beyond this severance pay, workers are entitled to breach-of-contract damages under the law.

The group also said the government should be forced to pay compensation to the companies whose licences it cancelled prematurely.

"The granting of licences was the government's doing. It has realised it was a mistake and it suddenly revoked those licences. It must, therefore, pay compensation to both the licencees and all their workers for its mistake."  

The employee of Sporting Live Group also said the company had paid all of its 200 workers their February salaries. Chau said Cambo Six paid all of its employees - a figure she put at 1,500 people - their salaries for February, but said the workers were entitled to severance and damages payouts, and that those should come from the state.

 "They are poor, and it will be difficult for them to find work," she said.

Capital residents for the ban

A majority of Phnom Penh residents see the government ban on licensed gambling establishments as positive, saying the move would benefit a number of facets of the social fabric of society, according to a survey by the local Indochina Research group.

Some 88 percent of people interviewed approved of the move. The number increased slightly, to 91 percent, among women.

Some 55 percent said the ban would reduce robbery and 42 percent said it would reduce crime and violence. About a quarter said it would combat school dropout rates.

Among the small group of dissenters - just 11 percent of those interviewed - nearly three-quarters said the shuttering of gambling establishments was wrong because it put people out of work. Otherwise, there was not a statistically significant category of opposition to the government move.

Indochina Research collected responses from 158 residents of Phnom Penh, balanced evenly between men and women, and people aged 18 to 30 and over 30.

Laurent Notin, the group's research director who oversaw the survey, said the limited sample size meant the numbers provide a "strong reflection" but not a definitive look at the opinions of the capital's residents. He also said the group would not assume the responses of rural Cambodians, who did not have as much access to gambling establishments, would be the same.




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