Three Cambodian men who took a Sihanoukville casino for more than $160,000 over the course of two days were arrested on Sunday amid accusations of cheating, though a local police official said the casino would also be investigated for permitting locals to gamble in the first place – a violation of a nationwide ban.
Police officials yesterday confirmed that 13 people had been detained from the Yaduoli Casino in Sihanoukville on Sunday after they were accused of “playing tricks” at the card tables, with 10 of them released yesterday after authorities deemed they were mere spectators during the gambling.
Im Voleak, the province’s deputy police chief, said the three remaining men were still being questioned by the Casino Management Operations Team, a department under the Ministry of Interior charged with monitoring casino activity. He could name only one of the three – Kampot resident Lay Pin.
“Three of them gambled directly on that night and might be sent to the court based on the accusation of the casino’s owners of using tricks, [like] hiding and changing cards to win money,” Voleak said.
“For this case, I will also make a report and seek policy advice from the [relevant] ministries and experts to make a decision [on Yaduoli],” he added.
Pok Salin, director of the Casino Management Operation Team, refused to divulge any of the detainees’ details, saying interrogations were still ongoing.
“I have not received a detailed report about the interrogation, only that they were first detained by the casino [staff],” he said.
The men were part of a group of 13 Kampot residents who visited Yaduoli Casino on Friday and Saturday, according to Kem Sal Viseth, whose brothers were among the 13 detained. He refused to name the men, however, only referring to them by their nicknames, Theng and Seng.
He added that when the group went to claim their winnings, they were handed a check for the amount, but wanted cash instead. At this point, they were directed to a separate room where, 40 minutes later, they were accused of having cheated and had their phones confiscated by casino security guards.
When the group demanded evidence of the cheating, Sal Viseth said, they were shown a grainy photo from security cameras of the alleged act. The 13 were held at the casino until Sunday morning when the Interior Ministry was informed of the case and the group was taken for further questioning.
Dieb Chhay, executive director for Yaduoli, said he had only heard of the incident from the casino staff, again repeating that the men had been held for cheating on the casino floor.
However, the provincial police’s Voleak alleged that Chhay’s nephew was the one who invited the 13 others to the casino to gamble, a claim that the Yadouli director declined to address, along with questions regarding how Cambodians came to be gambling at his establishment despite the ban.
According to Voleak, casinos were well aware that Cambodians are prohibited from gambling and Yaduoli was in violation of that long-standing order. “I will also lead a team to investigate how many casinos in the province have secretly allowed Cambodian people to gamble illegally,” he said.
Voleak said that it was not uncommon for casinos to allow Cambodians on the floor, but said the venues were often not happy when they won.
“As far as I know, all casinos do not want the customers to win at gambling and take the money out. It means that you can lose but cannot win,” he added.