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Hockry says Holiday casino must close under new gaming law

Hockry says Holiday casino must close under new gaming law

PARLIAMENT has unanimously approved legislation aimed at cracking down on illegal

gambling by imposing prison sentences and fines on violators.

"This law will outlaw all gambling houses that have been authorized by previous

administrations," Co-Interior Minister You Hockry said in reference to establishments

operating gaming tables under agreements with the pre-May 1993 socialist government.

The government last year signed an agreement with the Ariston company of Malaysia

granting it exclusive rights to operate casinos in Cambodia while the authorities

forced nine other prominent Phnom Penh gambling houses to close down in September.

The Holiday International has managed to keep its tables open under its pre-1993

election agreement while others have quietly reopened and scores of small dens still

tout for clients in the absence of laws.

When asked whether the new law would affect the Holiday, Hockry said: "If we

respect the law, I think that must close too."

The law passed provides for jail terms of up to five years and a maximum fine of

50 million riels for anyone convicted of running an illegal gambling center, while

punters at such houses face a fine and up to a year in prison.

The legislation also penalizes those who import or sell equipment that can be used

for illegal gambling and authorizes the government to seize any property and assests

of establishments busted by the authorities.

Any officials who protect or authorize the opening of a gambling den or casino face

fines and imprisonment of up to five years.

"It's a good law," said Tourism Minister Veng Sereyvuth, whose ministry

has helped draft a complimentary casino law that has yet to be tabled before Parliament.

Hockry, who reckoned the new law would have a positive effect on society, said the

casino law would enshrine the principle of barring Cambodians from licensed casinos.

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