Public Order Concerns Cause Ban on Online Gambling by Cambodia

Alluding to reasons of communal threat and public safety, Cambodia is on the brink of banning online gambling, a business that brought in a rush of Chinese investment for the brick and mortar casinos throughout the country.

As per Cambodian authorities, offshore criminals have been carrying out their criminal operations and money extortions via the online gambling segment.

With hordes of Chinese investors building casinos in and around the country for the past few years, Cambodia has now become a famous gambling den.  A number of casinos have sprouted in Sihanoukville, a coastal city in the south, which has specifically involved heavy investments in casinos.

Online gambling is available in most of the concrete casinos all over the country including Sihanoukville.  Mainland China gamblers usually haunt these properties.

A decree that is targeted to bring down online gambling in the country was signed by Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia on Sunday.  The proclamation of the ruling is that “The Royal Government of Cambodia will end distribution of licenses and online gambling policy inside and outside the Cambodian monarchy.” It was also made known that there will neither be termination of live licenses and nor will expired licenses be renewed.

While being its major investor, China has also been a close friend of Cambodia. It has also been trying to crack down on distant gambling. Philippines has been at the receiving end for its flourishing overseas gambling trade.  The country offers online gambling licenses to Philippines based companies that provide their services to offshore clients under the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) program.

Crackdown on Online Gambling in Cambodia

Regulated online gambling licenses similar to the Philippines are issued by Cambodia. Natives are disallowed from being involved in the licensed functions, under the country’s policy.

While attracting investors, Cambodia’s licensing scheme has also become quite a favorite with offenders.

“In the hunt for extorting money and cheating victims, both foreign and local, some overseas criminals have taken the route of online gambling to carry out their activities.”  Cambodian legislators have pointed out that this has adversely affected social law and order as well as public security.

Just a few days after the arrest of more than 120 Chinese citizens by the Suhanoukville police, who were supposedly operating an illicit online gambling and extortion gang in the city, there was news about the new order. Chinese authorities in cooperation with the local police conducted the operation. 

A warning to online gamblers was issued by the IT department of Cambodia’s Interior Ministry last week, stating that they were open to attacks of phishing and hacking when they opened accounts with overseas operators.

The Interior Department stated that the authorities were finding ways to tackle the influx of online gamblers in the country that were using gambling websites for carrying out their phishing conspiracies.

Phishing is a sophisticated technological offense as explained to the media by Deputy Director of the Interior Ministry’s IT department, Koem Sereyvuth that “our police cannot solve at the moment”, but they will definitely learn the technique of handling it.