THE government has ordered all slot machines at entertainment clubs to be removed, but will allow them to remain in many of the Kingdom's hotels, saying the change will improve security and public order.
According to a directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on December 2, "the government has agreed in principle to open entertainment clubs equipped with slot machines at hotels in cities and some provinces".
To control abuse, the government will require companies running slot machines to get licences from the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and only hotels that have certifications from the Ministry of Tourism will be allowed to house the machines, the new law stipulates.
If a company refuses to move their machines into hotels within six months, the ministries of the Interior and Economy will withdraw their licenses.
The prime minister's directive clearly reiterated that Cambodians are not allowed to go to an area designated for slot machines, adding that if this law is broken, the offending company's license will be immediately withdrawn.
Chea Peng Chheang, secretary of state at the Finance Ministry, said Wednesday that the government believes that many of the companies currently licensed to run slot machines do not follow this law.
Each company receives a book called Cashier de Charge, which clarifies the terms and conditions that a slot machine owner needs to meet.
Chea Penh Chheang said "the book mentions that Cambodians are prohibited to play", but that many clubs still allow locals to do so.
"They violate that condition in the book," he said.
"After the prime minister's signature, we must implement the directive effectively."
Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay said that the government directive should be welcomed by Cambodians.
"If slot machines are controlled well, there will be more money flowing to the nation," he said.
He worried, however, that the law would not be executed well.
"In hotels, it is even harder to control. Cambodian young people will still go to play at hotels," Son Chhay told the Post.
"When they lose, they will cheat their parents of money to continue gambling," he said.