Ever since Macau launched its anti-corruption crackdown targeting VIP gamblers from Mainland China, these gamblers have preferred to travel to casinos in neighboring countries like Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines where gambling laws are a lot more friendly.
Cambodia now appears to be cracking down on gamblers from Mainland China as well, as a series of arrests during the past few months have specifically targeted Chinese nationals who play at Cambodia’s casinos. The authorities recently raided the Golden Crown Casino in Poipet and arrested a total of 105 Chinese nationals who were staying at the casino hotel. The casino is owned by business magnate and senator Kok An.
The crackdown was a joint effort between Cambodian and Chinese police who suspected that many of the 105 Chinese nationals had committed crimes back in the Mainland. The casino was shutdown before the sting operation was conducted. The authorities at this point in time are not clear as to what are the crimes committed by each individual are but have plans to interrogate them one by one and file cases. The 105 gamblers spent their first night at the police station in Poipet before being sent to Phnom Penh, from where they will be deported to Mainland China.
The sting operation was headed by the director of the Interior Ministry’s internal security department, Sieng Sen who stated that it was a difficult operation at the casino since there were hundreds of Chinese gamblers present and the police had to identify who the individuals were that they were supposed to arrest. Out of the 105 arrested, the police have confirmed that 38 are wanted by Chinese authorities.
In a statement, Sen said “We will continue processing the cases tomorrow of those who are involved with committing crimes in their own country, as we are checking them against the Chinese court warrants and cooperating with Chinese police.” Those gamblers who did not have an arrest warrant against them, where released without any further charges.
Cambodian authorities had also targeted a casino operation in Sihanoukville back in November 2015 and arrested a total of 168 Mainland Chinese gamblers. The operation was once again a joint-effort between Chinese and Cambodian police who suspected that many of the Chinese gamblers in Sihanoukville were running and a VoIP blackmail racket targeting wealthy individuals in China. All of those arrested have since been deported and blacklisted from entering Cambodia again.