The Preah Sihanouk court on Monday released three Cambodian men accused of “playing tricks” at the Yaduoli Casino, though officials were unable to say what action, if any, would be taken against the casino for allowing locals to gamble in the first place a clear violation of a longstanding ban.
Im Voleak, the province’s deputy police chief, said yesterday that suspects Lay Pin, Ly Hokleang and Lem Pheng were released after the court failed to find evidence that they cheated when they took the casino for more than $160,000 over the course of two days.
“Deputy prosecutor Leng Bunheng decided to drop the accusations against them after not enough evidence was found,” he said. “They were freed to return home after they were educated not to gamble in the casino.”
Bunheng couldn’t be reached for comment yesterday.
Pin, Hokleang and Pheng were detained on Sunday along with 10 other people, who were released after authorities found them to only be spectators during the gambling. All 13 people had been accused by the casino’s owner of cheating.
Puek Salin, director of the Casino Management Operation Team – a department under the Ministry of Interior tasked with monitoring casino activity – which questioned the men, said taking action against the casino was outside his purview.
“I have no power to fine or withdraw the licence of casino owners that allow Cambodians to gamble,” he said. “I can if I have the order from the national level.”
Salin said his department can only submit a report of the casino’s violation to the court and to the Ministry of Interior’s Department of Management for Commercial Gambling.
Pao Samun, deputy chief of the Department of Management for Commercial Gambling, and multiple Ministry of Interior spokesmen couldn’t be reached for comment.
Voleak on Sunday said he would make a report and seek advice from relevant ministries and experts to make a decision on Yaduoli.
Dieb Chhay, executive director for Yaduoli, could not be reached for comment.
Voleak on Sunday alleged that Chhay’s nephew was the one who invited the 13 people to the casino to gamble, a claim the executive director declined to address at the time.
While the bulk of the $160,00 in question was believed to have been cashed out on Friday, it was not immediately apparent if the trio’s remaining winnings would be released by the casino or not.