The Council of Ministers on Friday said the government has instructed authorities to eliminate all online and arcade gambling by the end of the year.
“All kinds of online and arcade gambling […] must end by the end of 2019,” the Council of Ministers said in a statement. “Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodia’s development has to be based on nature and culture tourism, not online gambling.”
Last week, Mr Hun Sen issued a directive banning all online and arcade gambling in the Kingdom in a bid to safeguard security and public order. No deadline had been set.
Mr Hun Sen said in the directive that some licensed online gambling operations rigged their games and threatened those who are not able to repay their gambling debt.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan noted that the government has already stopped issuing online gambling licenses.
Mr Siphan said Chinese nationals place bets online and those who are unable to repay debts are detained and confined for ransom.
“We have arrested many Chinese people and deported them back to China,” Mr Siphan said. “After seeing many criminals arrested, the government decided to stop issuing online gambling licenses.”
Yong Kim Eng, president of the People Centre for Development and Peace, yesterday said Cambodia should not be seen as a gambling destination.
“It is an important issue to stop – not just online gambling, but all types of gambling has to stop,” Mr Kim Eng said.
He noted that online gambling involves foreigners, especially Chinese nationals who are also linked to extortion.
“Many people will suffer if the government does not take legal action to tackle all these crimes related to online gambling,” Mr Kim Eng said.
Meas Soksensan, spokesman for the Economy and Finance Ministry, and Lieutenant General Chhay Kim Khoeun, spokesman for the National Police, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
On August 18, Lt Gen Kim Khoeun said police will follow the government’s directive and crack down on all online gambling operations.
“We have already been cracking down on illegal gambling operations and as you have seen, we have arrested hundreds of people,” he noted.
The Chinese government on August 20 said it supports Cambodia’s decision.
“We believe it will help protect both Cambodian and Chinese people’s interests,” Geng Shuang, spokesman for China’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, said. “It will also strengthen our law enforcement cooperation and friendly relations.”
“China stands ready to work with Cambodia to take effective measures to deepen law enforcement and security cooperation,” Mr Geng said.