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Slot machines axed after raid in Phnom Penh's Daun Penh district

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An official strikes a confiscated gaming machine with a small sledge hammer on Saturday in Phnom Penh. Photograph supplied

Authorities destroyed about 40 illegal electronic slot machines in Daun Penh district on Saturday after confiscating them from clandestine businesses.

Kim Vutha, chief of the Daun Penh district order and security unit, said that the 40 slot machines – which allow users to play games like video poker and bet on simulated horse racing – were confiscated from houses in two communes of the district that were allowing students to use the illegal machines.

“We destroyed them because we wanted to educate the students not to avoid their schooling and play the games foolishly,” he said.

Gambling in any form is illegal – except in cases of explicit government-sanctioned exception – according to the 1996 Law on the Suppression of Gambling.

Vutha added that the confiscations came on the heels of reports from concerned parents, and an investigation carried out by local authorities.

“We will continue to find other locations for cracking down,” he said.

Authorities decommissioned numerous slot machines last year, but Saturday’s mass demolition was the first of its kind in 2013.

Regardless of the crackdown, however, the machines can still be found.

For example, behind the barely-open gate of a Daun Penh home yesterday, two rows of glowing video poker monitors were just discernable from the street. 

The woman running the slots – who did not identify herself beyond denying she was the business’ proprietress – acknowledged that the machines were for gambling, but maintained that the business was on the up-and-up because it refused to cater to minors.

Yong Kim Eng, president of the People’s Centre for Development and Peace, said that parents, teachers and other concerned citizens often complained that gambling on slot machines led to more serious crimes like violence and theft, and negatively impacting students’ study habits.

“It really affects the students’ studies when there is a lack of monitoring by teachers and parents and authorities, and a lack of law enforcement allows the opening of these games near schools,” he said. 

With assistance from Stuart White

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