Siem Reap’s second gambling bust in as many days took place on Monday, as police raided an illegal lottery operation being housed at the offices of an internet provider.
Hong Bun Hav, the Siem Reap provincial police minor crimes deputy chief, yesterday said authorities raided the Siem Reap branch of internet company CooTel on Monday afternoon and detained 11 people.
“[CooTel] were operating a lottery, [a numbers game] similar to the Vietnamese lottery and Thai lottery,” he said, adding that the only permissible lottery in Cambodia is the sale of scratch cards.
The 11 detained were sent to the provincial court yesterday, Hav said. CooTel representatives in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh could not be reached for comment.
The raid followed the bust of an illegal casino just 3 kilometres from the town centre on Sunday night, which saw 14 people detained along with a haul of gambling equipment, which deputy provincial police chief Um Amra speculated came from Pailin or Kratie province.
Bun Tharith, Siem Reap’s deputy governor, told the Post yesterday that government policy forbids casinos in the province, despite there being no law explicitly banning them – although a licence is required.
“No one applied to have a casino licence in Siem Reap,” he said.“We don’t want to allow [gambling], because it is a cultural tourist place.
When there is gambling, there will be losers and winners, so there will be thieves [and] our tourist places will not be safe,” Tharith continued, adding that authorities are seeking to continue the crackdown.
According to the Interior Ministry’s annual report, gambling crackdowns were up nearly six-fold, from 55 in 2014 to 324 last year, resulting in 1,326 individual arrests.