Government officials on Tuesday warned of action against those who continue to run online gambling businesses despite the passing of the year-end deadline.

The Preah Sihanouk provincial administration reminded all online gambling operators to cease business by today, following the deadline set on December 31 last year.

It cited a circular previously released by the government, which ordered all domestic and international online gambling operators to stop activities in the Kingdom from midnight on Tuesday.

“The Preah Sihanouk joint force, in cooperation with the national working team, will be checking casinos in the province.

“If we find that they [operators] still actively conduct their business, either with a machine or through the internet, our team will take action under the law.

“We, therefore, ask all casino owners in Preah Sihanouk to participate in implementing this circular effectively,” wrote the administration on its Facebook page.

On Monday, a meeting led by National Police chief Neth Savoeun was held to discuss online gambling and how to effectively implement the circular.

Savouen appealed to all online gambling operators to cooperate, adding that online gambling must be eliminated from the Kingdom.

“We had a meeting where we instructed all officials not to frighten foreign nationals. Both foreign and local investors must be cared for so they can confidently invest in the province.

“We’re only conducting operations against online gambling,” said provincial administration spokesman Kheang Phearom who participated in the meeting.

On Tuesday, National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun said: “The National Police chief had made it clear that any individual or group who defies the order is to be considered as gangsters.

“We will shut down all online gambling operations. No individual or group can violate this circular.”

The National Police’s Anti-Gambling Department director Sieng Sen told The Post last week that the implementation of the ban would require cooperation across all authoritative levels.

“On December 24, we held a meeting with the Preah Sihanouk administration and we instructed all casino operators to abide by the circular. It applies to all provinces, not just Preah Sihanouk,” noted Sen.

Rights group Adhoc provincial coordinator Cheab Sotheary welcomed the gambling ban, adding that gambling could compromise national security and attract money laundering activities.

Some foreigners, she said, only come to Cambodia to gamble and commit crimes.

With the ban, she said, “the government can attract major investors who have good intentions for the country”.

During the 8th Sea Festival in Kampot province on December 22, Prime Minister Hun Sen expressed his commitment to eliminating online gambling as it brought more harm than good to the country’s economy and put the Kingdom at risk of money laundering, organised crime groups and terrorism.