Local authorities in the Cambodian capital city of Phnom Penh have pledged to crack down on illegal gambling, which appears to be spreading quickly in the country despite the 52 new casino licenses granted by the government last year. The urgent plan, introduced by the city governor, includes the establishment of a “unified command” that would carry out operations against illegal gambling dens.
On Monday, the Phnom Penh Municipal Hall said it would be focusing on eliminating the underground gambling operations carried out outside licensed casinos. Police chiefs in the city are now being instructed by Governor Khuong Sreng to organize task force units in order to crack down on the illegal gambling dens, Municipal Hall spokesperson Met Meas Pheakdey told the Phnom Penh Post. Such illegal operations seem to be increasing in the city, Meas Pheakdy said, which has prompted the governor to demand a more active approach by the police.
The measures are an urgent response to the many instances of illegal games of chance being organized all around the Cambodian capital. Governor Sreng has initiated the anti-gambling plan, allowing each police chief to formulate strategies to conduct the operations. According to him, authorities need to improve their tactics and establish a “unified command” in order to carry out a more successful crackdown on illegal gambling.
Even though such campaigns have been carried out “on a daily basis”, more needs to be done to eliminate the underground casino-like establishments, the paper writes citing Governor Sreng. Furthermore, the governor says that he would be having regular meetings with police chiefs and “unified commanders” in order to set a plan for them and urge them to take on a more proactive approach regarding the eradication of illegal gambling dens.
Immediate Raids on Illegal Gambling Dens
Following the introduction of the new, enhanced measures, the police in the Cambodian capital has already carried out several raids on illegal gambling establishments in the city, Phnom Penh Municipal Hall spokesman Met Meas Pheakdey announced. The police task force has uncovered a few unlicensed gambling dens in the Daun Penh district over the past 48 hours.
The Phnom Penh Post also spoke to the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability executive director San Chey who believes that the crackdown on illegal gambling must be “enforced without any interruptions”. According to him and many gambling opponents in Cambodia, the underground gambling and drug networks have been linked with people in powerful positions, so the police must be persistent in conducting raids against such criminal activity.
Data by the Ministry of Economy and Finance reveals that by the end of 2018, the number of licensed casinos in Cambodia increased by 53 percent compared over a period of just one year. Last year, a total of 52 casinos acquired gaming licenses from the government. By the end of 2018, there were 150 licensed casinos in the country and the growth in the sector was mainly driven by the launch of many legitimate gambling operations in the Kingdom’s Preah Sihanouk province.