POLICE in Preah Sihanouk province arrested nine people caught betting on the outcomes of World Cup matches in two raids on Sunday, following an announcement from Prime Minister Hun Sen that no gambling related to the tournament would be tolerated.
Tak Vantha, the provincial police chief, said a raid on a large parlour in Sihanoukville’s Commune 3 had netted seven people. The other two were arrested in a separate raid in the same commune.
Deputy provincial police Chief Kav Ratana said Monday that all nine were being held at the provincial police station, but that they would soon be released because they were first-time offenders.
“They are all gamblers, and we will hold them at the station for up to 24 hours,” he said.
“We will release them after they sign contracts, and we won’t send them to court for further investigation because they gambled for the first time.”
In February 2009, Hun Sen abruptly ordered the closure of the country’s sports betting outlets and slot-machine parlours, saying they had been responsible for a moral decline in the Kingdom.
Last Wednesday, he said Cambodians stood to lose too much by betting on the World Cup, which began on Friday and runs through July 11.
“Don’t make the year of the World Cup the year of lost money,” he said. “The winners are in other countries, but the Cambodian people here are the losers.”
Phnom Penh Police Chief Touch Naruth said Monday that no large World Cup-related gambling crackdowns had been carried out in the capital. Several raids of “smaller parlours”, he said, had not led to any arrests.
“We have requested people to cooperate with local authorities to tip them off about any information they find on football betting places,” he said.