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Betting crackdown called for

A croupier sits at a game table in a Bavet casino earlier this year as the game is transmitted to patrons via webcam.
A croupier sits at a game table in a Bavet casino earlier this year as the game is transmitted to patrons via webcam. Victoria Mørck Madsen

Betting crackdown called for

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng in a meeting yesterday called on authorities at all levels to strengthen their enforcement of a long-standing ban on citizens gambling, which has been only sporadically enforced over the years.

“I request to relevant institutions to put in place mechanisms, and for our provincial, district and military police to work together to crack down on illegal gambling,” Kheng told assembled ministry officials.

Small-time gambling on cards and cockfights remains common across the Kingdom, and bans on Cambodians gambling in established casinos have proven easy to flout in the past.

However, according to National Police spokesman Kirth Chantharith, internal security officers have in past months been stationed outside casinos to perform checks and prohibit the entrance of Cambodians, a move he described to have yielded “good results”.

“[We] have [also] received good results for the [overall] crackdown and prevented gambling,” he said, adding that a total of 520 cases of gambling – ranging from lotteries to cockfights to football betting – were prevented in the past 10 months.Phnom Penh had the most cases, with 110; followed by Kratie, with 57; and casino hotspot Preah Sihanouk, with 39.

“The owners of the casinos [sometimes] do not cooperate with armed forces because they are only concerned about having more clients.”

He also noted that some local gambling rings “are protected and intervened in by backers”, making “local forces hesitate to [raid them]”.

Chantharith also acknowledged that there were “a few authorities involved in gambling”, but declined to comment further.

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