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Local backlash over illegal gaming causes village mob

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Some 100 people gathered to destroy illegal gambling equipment in Russey Keo District. Facebook

Local backlash over illegal gaming causes village mob

Russey Keo district authorities have closed down premises that had illegal “shooting fish” arcade games in Svay Pak commune’s Svay Pak village, following a backlash from locals which eventually saw around 100 villagers descend on the premises to damage the machines.

The locals said the authorities had up to now refused to act against the illegal games, which are known for encouraging gambling and anti-social behaviour, so the villagers took matters into their own hands on Sunday.

Troeung Younglo, a representative of the Vietnamese community in the area told The Post on Monday that the two games were damaged in the incident.

“We filed a complaint with the local authorities asking them to crack down on the premises which contained the illegal arcade machines. But no one from the police responded.

“The games had caused children in the village to evade schooling and even to steal from their families to continue betting on the game.

“On the night of March 13, a group of six people came out of the premises and stole two mobiles phones from villages and destroyed their motorcycles.

“With this behaviour, the locals had had enough, and on Sunday morning, villagers flocked to the premises to damage the games,” he said.

He said after the villagers damaged the games, Russey Keo district police forces arrived later the same day, collected all exhibits and took them to the district police station. They also ordered the game owner to sign a contract agreeing to stop running shooting game dens of any kind.

However, on Monday evening, the villagers expressed their concerns after owner Chroeng Yangbin allegedly said that he would sue them for “trespassing and destroying property”.

A 17-year-old youth, Ngyieung Yangtoeng, claimed that he had been the victim of a robbery by six unidentified persons who came from the gaming premises on the night of March 13.

He said he and some villagers who went to damage the game booths were captured on CCTV in front of Yangbin’s house.

“I am worried I will be sued because I was in the crowd that day when the villagers went down to the premises. I don’t want to be sued,” he said.

Yangbin could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Russey Keo district police chief Heang Thareth told The Post on Monday that he had ordered his officials to close the premises and had seized all the game booths destroyed by the villagers.

He said although the villagers’ actions were beyond the limits of the law, it had also shown their support and participation in the government’s safe village-commune policy.

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