To ensure effective suppression of illegal gambling, the Ministry of Interior is set to amend the Law on Suppression of Gambling, aligning it with the Law on Commercial Gambling Management.

Interior ministry undersecretary of state Try Sokheng chaired a technical working group on January 23 to discuss these amendments, as per a ministry social media post. 

He said the first task for the working group is to research and gather documents related to national and international laws. This groundwork will provide the foundation for aligning the 1996 Law on Suppression of Gambling with the 2020 Law on Commercial Gambling Management. 

“In a bid to adapt to technological advancements in the digital age, amendments to the 1996 law are underway. This initiative, driven by technological advancements, seeks to enhance the suppression and elimination of illegal gambling,” he said. 

Yong Kim Eng, president of the People’s Centre for Development and Peace, said the ministry’s focus on amending and drafting laws related to gambling clampdown may not be the most crucial aspect. Instead, he emphasised the importance of inspecting all residential areas to ensure that local authorities have not issued permits for gambling operations.

He explained that if such permits were issued, eradicating gambling would be a daunting task. He said this may lead to people shifting from small-scale gambling dens to larger establishments. 

“Therefore, amending laws to eradicate all forms of gambling in residential communities is imperative. Clarity in defining specific authorised locations is sought to curb the prevalence of both legal and illegal gambling nationwide,” he said. 

He claimed that the government’s attempt to amend and create new laws has not effectively eradicated illegal gambling. A well-crafted law is insufficient if the police cannot effectively carry out crackdown, leading to the persistence of covert monetary transactions.

He said that this perpetuates the existence of illegal gambling and contributes to the ongoing impoverishment of people. 

“I’ve observed that police crackdowns on gambling appear less effective, as each case they’ve dealt with hasn’t resulted in a significant reduction of gambling in communities,” he said. 

Article 5 of the 1996 Law on Suppression of Gambling stipulates that individuals engaged in unauthorised gambling dens or gambling agent management may face a fine ranging from five to 20 million riel ($1,225 to $5,000), along with imprisonment from one to five years.

Under Article 10 of the same law, no authority other than the government can authorise gambling. Permitting gambling without government authorisation may result in imprisonment of up to five years.

In the seventh government mandate, the Ministry of Interior has introduced a comprehensive six-point policy, addressing issues such as gambling, drug-related problems, criminal offences, gang-related concerns, traffic accidents, human trafficking and border-related challenges.