Cambodia has cracked down on illegal gambling with authorities closing down 231 illegitimate gambling companies and arresting 606 people in the process.
The Khmer Times reported that Cambodian police force spokesperson Lieutenant General Chhay Kim Khoeun has been actively cracking down on illegal gambling establishments across the whole country from September 15 to December 27 and will continue to do so in 2023 as well.
Cambodian Police’s Crackdown Already Shows Results
The police representative noted that they have been identifying illegal gambling operators and businesses issuing orders for the closure of any venues and websites. In case the offenders continued operations they were subject to arrests and court proceedings.
As a result, the authorities already report a decline in illegal gambling activities in comparison to the state of affairs at the beginning of September.
Heng Kimhong, Head of the Research and Advocacy Program of the Cambodian Youth Network Association, noted that there is a decrease in illegal gambling and fewer arrests in connection with such crimes but the authorities should keep up the good work as Cambodia has a long road ahead of it before it eradicates such activities completely.
The Crackdown Was Ordered by Prime Minister Hun Sen in September
On September 15, Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen issued an official order to the police force to identify and thwart any illegal gambling activities in the country. This came after Cambodia’s international reputation was further hurt by a series of cases involving human trafficking in connection with the thriving Cambodian illegal gambling market.
As tourism is one of the main pillars of Cambodia’s economy, the internationally covered human trafficking cases have driven away tourists to what they consider safer destinations. To remedy this Prime Minister Sen proclaimed his determination to eradicate illegal gambling and the crimes associated with it: “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.”
The order resulted in many raids, arrests, and legal charges against the offenders.
Cambodia Wants to Be Removed from the FATF Grey List
Cambodia also recently requested the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to review its inclusion in its grey list. Usually, in the grey list end up companies that pose a great risk for money laundering.
In order to signal its commitment to eradicate criminal activities in the gambling sector, in the first month after the Prime Minister issued his order the Cambodian police force raided about 10,000 illegal gambling venues. This led to charges being pressed against 127 of the establishments.
Further efforts on the gambling front included new rules on licensed gambling, which will help the Cambodian government better track which operators already have a license and which operate illegally.
Cambodia hopes that as a result of all of these measures it will succeed in being removed from the FATF’s grey list.
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