Casinos located in the seaside province of Sihanoukville have been asked by the deep-water port city’s Governor Yun Min to start enforcing laws that prohibit locals from gambling in Cambodian casinos, according to The Phnom Penh Post.
The call for the crackdown was issued in a statement released by Min on January 20 after local authorities found that the number of Cambodian citizens that continue to ignore the law banning gambling has increased. The statement by Min reportedly reads, “There are some casinos that do not comply with the government’s strict instructions and have allowed Cambodian clients to gamble, resulting in impacts on public order and social security.”
Commenting on the call for stricter enforcement of the law, Sihanoukville City Governor Y Sokleng reportedly insisted that his administration did not possess the authority to comply with Min’s order. He said, “It is not related to city administration. And secondly, regarding Cambodians gambling, in the past, the city had invited casinos and instructed them not to allow Cambodian people to play,” according to the report.
Adding fuel to the fire, the news agency reports that last week, pictures purportedly showing opposition lawmaker Eng Chhay Eang gambling at NagaWorld casino in Phnom Penh appeared on an anonymous Facebook page. Authorities reportedly took note of the incident, according to the City Hall spokesman, and would continue to request that casinos not admit Cambodians. “If there are Cambodians playing, they [casinos] need to bear responsibility for it. But in the future [City Governor Pa Socheatvong] might take some action, we will wait and see,” as reported by the news agency.
Meanwhile, the recent decision by Vietnam to institute a three-year trial that would allow locals with a monthly income of at least $450 to wager at approved domestic casinos could spell disaster for Cambodia’s 65 or so casinos a quarter of which are located along the country’s border with Vietnam and rely heavily on foreign patronage.