The government formed a national working group to combat all kinds of illegal gambling in the Kingdom. The decision came at the request of the Ministry of Interior.

According to the decision made on September 16 and signed by Prime Minster Hun Sen, the working group consists of 12 members and is led by Minister of Interior secretary of state Sok Phall.

According to the letter, this working group is tasked with planning and principle strategies and can give instructions to authorities to implement measures to combat all kinds of illegal gambling.

The working group will also work with relevant authorities at the national and sub-national levels to investigate and combat illegal gambling.

They are also entitled to investigate human trafficking crimes, labour exploitation, sex trafficking and money laundering crimes and all other kinds of crimes happening or alleged to be happening in casinos or in connection to illegal gambling.

Following the announcement of the decision, Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 17 also instructed authorities at all levels to combat these crimes. He said gambling should not interrupt the government’s efforts for national development if provincial and local level authorities take action against them responsibly.

“The national working group cannot go everywhere where crimes happen, no matter if a hundred working groups have been set up, the national working group depends entirely on local authorities. It depends on local authorities such as the commune, district and provincial police,” he said. “What is important is whether you want to do it or not.”

“I’ve issued an absolute order to combat these crimes in a timely manner and without exception. I will not hesitate to depose a provincial or capital governor or district governor or police official at any level, who does not responsibly do their job. We cannot let this anarchic situation continue,” he said.

Hun Sen said that there was gambling like cockfighting and other kinds in some localities, but local police and authorities just ignored it. He questioned whether those local gambling dens pay bribes to the police and local officials.

He also called on local businesses to stop providing gambling services or face permanent shutdown, saying that gambling contributes to crimes which makes the “safe village, safe commune” principle ineffective.

“I also call on our people to stop gambling. They must give up gambling. This is to protect your property rather than to throw it away at gambling dens and make yourself fall into debt and then need to migrate for work abroad, as well as causing strife within families,” he said.