The United States Warns Gambling Companies to Tread Lightly in Cambodia

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Several US establishments, including the Department of State, the Department of Treasury, and the Department of Commerce, have warned US betting operators who target or consider targeting the Cambodian marked to be vigilant, amid concerns about the high rates of crime in Cambodia.

The US Warns its Local Operators

The three bodies emphasized that numerous Cambodian entities are involved in money laundering, drug dealing, and human trafficking, which may, in turn, expose the US companies to risk. They pointed out that the Cambodian regulators cannot keep up with the fast growth of gambling in the country – just between 2014 and 2019, Cambodia has seen a 263% increase in casino licenses. As law-keepers struggle to follow everything that is happening, crime flourishes.

The advice reminds that the Financial Action Task Force, a body dedicated to fighting money laundering and terrorism financing, gray-listed Cambodia in 2019 because of the country’s lax regulations.

Child labor is considered to be one of the big problems in the Cambodian betting market, as minors are allegedly working in all sectors of the casino industry, including the construction of the betting venues themselves.

US’ Action Against Two Cambodian Politicians

Recently, the United States issued sanctions to the director-general of the technical service department of Cambodia’s Defense ministry, Chau Phirun, and the commander of the Royal Cambodian Navy, Tea Banh.

According to the allegations, the two have secretly worked to inflate costs of the construction of the Ream Naval Base. Ned Price from the US State Department said that is believed Chau and Tea planned to use the surplus of money for their own needs. The sanctions prohibit Chau, Tea, and their families from entering the United States. Any assets they own will be frozen.

Cambodian authorities aren’t amused by the United States’ meddling in their affairs, labeling it as “politically motivated.”

Phay Siphan insists that the US is concerned over China’s involvement and dismissed the allegations against Chau and Tea, saying that Cambodia will not respond to them. According to Siphan, this and the overall US warnings are sparked because of the political nature of the construction of the Ream Naval Base.

Cambodia Dismisses Accusations as Politically-Motivated

The United States is considering that Cambodia may permit China to use the Ream Naval Base as a military outpost, despite PM Hun Sen denying this on the basis that it conflicts with the Cambodian constitution.

Speaking of China, Wang Wenbin from the Foreign Ministry of China said that the naval base’s construction is mutually-beneficial cooperation between China and Cambodia and the United States has no right to meddle.

“These sanctions were politically motivated, and it is not the position of Cambodia to talk with the U.S. on this matter,” Siphan concluded.

Chad Roedemeier, a member of the US embassy in Cambodia spoke on the matter. He said that the United States has been concerned by Cambodia’s crime and human rights abuses for a while but, sadly, change doesn’t seem to be in sight.

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