After rumors surfaced that Cambodia would crack down on illegal casinos and the other criminal activity surrounding it, an order finally came on Saturday signed by the country’s prime minister, Hun Sen. The order essentially tells authorities and police to look into any officials that may have been complicit or failed to act in the face of sprawling illegal gambling.
Cambodia Looking to Fix Its Global Reputation
Sen is responding to increased reports of human trafficking and several dramatic cases that made global headlines and cast Cambodia in a yet more bad light on the international scene. Most recently, 56 Vietnamese workers left a casino in Bavet on the same day the order was issued. The case was reminiscent of another recent accident with the border when 40 workers swam back home through the water border that Cambodia and Vietnam share.
Illegal gambling has been a growing worry, undermining Cambodia’s ability to capitalize on one of its mainstays – tourism. At first, it was only workers who worried, but with the country’s notoriety for human trafficking climbing, well-heeled tourists have opted for other, safer destinations. To make sure that rich tourists start coming back, Cambodia needs to deal away with illegal gambling and human exploitation that happens on site. Sen added:
I do not hesitate with the removal of the capital-provincial governors, district governors, Khans, municipalities, or any level of police officers who are found to be irresponsible.Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen
Sen has already involved other members of his government, including Minister of Interior Sar Kheng who is working on a blueprint plan. He is also working to resolve the incident that took place in Bavet where the 56 Vietnamese workers fled over “work disagreements.”
Several Crackdowns over the Weekend
Authorities also swept on Saturday on Sihanoukville, resulting in the detention of 400 workers who were allegedly involved in the running of illegal online gambling operations for a company known as Boeng Chheng International Entertainment Co., Ltd.
The instances of cases where illegal online gambling thrives have been increasing. This is mostly because Cambodia stopped issuing licenses back in 2019 to online casinos but it has failed to actually address the much bigger problem – the illegal and unregulated gambling segment.