Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to clamp down on all online and arcade gambling operations in a move to safeguard national security and curb money laundering in the Kingdom.
Speaking at an opening of the Sea Festival in Kampot province on Saturday, Mr Hun Sen said that the Kingdom will face issues of national security, terrorism, and money laundering if online and arcade gambling is condoned to exist.
“I see that if Cambodia’s economy depends on revenue from online gambling, the country will become victimised by its own national security as we will be under threat of mafia in our country,” he said. “We will also be targeted for money laundering through online gambling.”
“By banning online gambling, Cambodia does not become a shelter for foreign criminals who extort money from victims inside and outside the country. [Online gambling] will affect security and public order,” Mr Hun Sen said.
He said that countries in the world are battling money laundering, including terrorist financing.
“Cambodia no longer allows online gambling to be present,” he said.
Mr Hun Sen said that if online and arcade gambling is condoned, the Kingdom will lose security while big business people are loath to invest in the country.
“We decided to ban online gambling and our country has good security, and we have scrupulous investors living in Cambodia,” he said.
In August, Mr Hun Sen signed a directive to ban all online and arcade gambling in the Kingdom.
He noted that some licensed online gambling operations rigged their games and threatened those who were not able to repay their gambling debt.
Following a government ban on online gambling intended to reduce the number of crimes committed by foreigners, tens of thousands of Chinese nationals were reportedly leaving the Kingdom.
According to an August report from the National Police, some 250,000 Chinese nationals were living and working in the Kingdom, including around 100,000 each in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville.
The Chinese government also expressed support for Cambodia’s decision to ban all online gambling and arcade gambling.