There’s a new cop in town, and provincial chief Chhoun Narin is cracking down on illegal gambling.
Cambodia has dozens of casinos, mostly operating in special zones at border crossings. However, some of the largest casinos such as Queenco and Fortuna are located in heavily visited tourist areas like SihanoukVille.
Cambodian citizens are not allowed to visit these establishment to gamble, but earlier reports indicate they may rush the doors at shift-change and other opportunities. For gambling denizens who would prefer not to risk arrest for slipping into a place they are not welcome, another alternative has grown in popularity – the illegal underground gambling scene.
The Cambodia government expects to make a lot of money in the form of taxes from its growing casino industry but has a full time job on its hands in fending off competition which ironically comes not from its neighboring countries but from within.
The illegal gambling industry in Cambodia is growing at a rapid pace as the underground mafia looks to capitalize on the gambling industry. A number of illegal gambling establishments have been set up in Cambodia’s southwestern coastal destination and operate under false business names. These illegal establishments are well organized and not only provide gambling services but also other forms of adult entertainment including prostitution.
Many such illegal establishments are located in Sihanoukville and have a strong customer base even though the risks are high. The government wants to eliminate all of these underground establishments as they cut into the government’s profits which are derived from the gambling industry. There is also concern for the social welfare and safety of Cambodian citizens.
The task of eliminating these illegal gambling establishments could prove difficult because the Cambodia police are mostly aware of these establishments but may turn a blind eye because some get a commission from the gambling mafia. The recently appointed provincial police chief of Sihanoukville, Chhoun Narin stated that his department will now take on the responsibility of cleaning up the city and will then focus on the surrounding areas. All forms of illegal gambling such as poker parlors, sports betting and cockfighting will no longer be allowed to take place. Anyone found promoting or taking part in such activities will immediately be arrested and prosecuted.
In a statement, Chhit Sokhun, Sihanoukville Provincial Governor said “During those raids if the police officers encounter problems when illegal gambling operators use powerful people to protect them, I will report those issues to the government so it can take further measures.”