Cambodia is serious about bringing unregulated gambling under control, efforts that directly correspond to the country becoming a bigger pariah on traveling itineraries and being pressured by China, a trade partner, and local political hegemon, to clean up its act.
Cambodia Puts the Crack on Illegal Gambling Operators and Human Traffickers
As such, Prime Minister Hun Sen vowed last week to tackle the criminal activity tied to the illegal gambling sector in the country, which has done serious damage to Cambodia’s overall standing and saw it become blacklisted by international businesses and tourists who are often considered a staple to the economy.
In the latest move against illegal gambling, Cambodian authorities apprehended more than 150 foreigners. They were acting under growing pressure to tackle human trafficking and kidnappings that are directly tied to the country’s flourishing underground gambling sector.
Much of this though can be ascribed to authorities conveniently turning a blind eye over the past decade, allowing the proliferation of these practices. Now though, Sen is determined to do right by his country and ensure that bad actors are brought to justice. The crackdown resulted in the arrest of 72 Chinese nationals and 82 Indonesians.
The prime minister has vowed to do everything in his power to make sure that the organizers of illegal gambling are brought to swift justice. This, though, may be coming a little too late, as Cambodia has already been ostracized by numerous international watchdogs, including US authorities who have advised businesses to refrain from launching operations in the country.
At first, this critique from the United States was met with intransigence on the part of irascible Cambodian officials, but Sen has thought through the situation and decided that the best course of action would be to address the real problem that has denigrated the country’s reputation in the first place.
Cambodia Admits Shortcomings and Is Prepared to Fight to Rectify Them
Presently, Cambodia is dealing with a quasi-epidemic in terms of human trafficking. Some 95% of the complaints submitted that allege such crime are correct. Cambodia’s authorities are finally waking up to the unflattering reality that they have allowed their country to become a breeding ground for gambling-related crime. The good news is that they are at long last doing something to address the issue head-on, rather than passively quipping back at global regulators.