Illegal Casinos Keep Trafficking People in Cambodia

Lured on a false promise of a well-paid job, three Cambodian workers have been held captive by a human trafficker at an illegal casino site in Sihanoukville in the west of the country. The report, which comes from Radio Free Asia, depicts the latest in a series of disturbing incidents taking place in the no man’s land where gambling operations have set up shop.

While the government has been trying to actively dismantle the illegal gambling industry, not least because of pressure from China, the cases of individuals held against their will to carry out various illegal operations, including gambling, continue to increase.

In the latest report, Radio Free Asia reports that two women and one man have been forced to work in the online gambling industry for at least the last two months now. The radio has been able to identify the trafficker, listing him by his name, Long, who owns the gambling operation.

Radio Free Asia was tipped about the development by one of the captive’s cousins, who alerted the media about their family’s predicament. Local police, the man said, had been unable to help and had mostly not acted in the matter. According to the anonymous tipster, the trafficked workers had been held made to work even during times when they were sick.

How Do Traffickers Lure Their Victims?

Apparently, the victims were cajoled on a promise of a hefty $1,000 pay to travel to Sihanoukville. Upon arrival, they found out that their salary would be much lower, less than $500 in fact. When they tried to quit, the trafficker barred them from leaving, and force onto them a one-year contract.

The trafficker then threatened to “sell” the three captives to other companies if they refused to sign and fulfill their contractual obligations to be, in what may seem like a staggering violation of personal rights but this is what happens to many trafficked casinos workers.

According to Radio Free Asia, at least 437 people had become victims of trafficking schemed and were forced to work in the illegal online gambling sector between March and October The media cited the Chinese-owned Century Casino in the area as one of the places where that took place. At one point, a COVID-19 outburst was registered, leading to the death of a worker. Cambodia continues to rely on its casino industry for additional proceedings to bolster the public purse.

The country, however, has serious problems insofar as social justice is concerned and the disputed region of Sihanoukville is often associated with corruption, deplorable living conditions, and abuse. In September, a Cambodian-Chinese join task force took down an illegal casino in Phnom Penh, the country’s capital, leading to 200 arrests.

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