Prime Minister Hun Sen has ordered all officials to crack down on illegal gambling throughout the capital and warned that those who fail to do so will face dismissal.
Hun Sen issued the order on September 17, saying, “I would like to issue a very strict order to take repressive measures [against illegal gambling] in a timely and decisive manner. I do not hesitate with the dismissal of the capital-provincial governors or any level of police officers who do not respond to their work.”
"I would like to inform you that it is no longer possible to tolerate anarchic situations in the casino," he said.
He added that gambling affects people's economy and wastes time. These reasons push them to sell their belongings to pay for gambling. He suggests that all businessmen who embed illegal gambling must be stopped. If not, they will face the wrath of the law and close their business. Hun Sen said the committee must investigate all officials who conspire with gambling, which is a danger to society.
“This issue must be responded to, there is no need to disturb the Prime Minister. Some gambling places local officials know, but the problem is in you whether you do it or not? Or that place is your place to make money?” the prime minister said.
San Chey, executive director of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability (ANSA), said that the campaign to crack down on illegal gambling began with online lotteries and cock fighting, a form of gambling that both young and old can play in public places. But the games that are the focus of this crackdown is illegal poker and other similar forms of gambling.
He added that he believes Cambodia should not have gambling outside casinos as it appeals to people, especially those without work. The social impact is serious and it is a game that leads to destruction.
“For me, I still adhere to the principle that there should be no gambling outside the casino, law enforcement at the casino does not allow Cambodians to play, but in reality there are still Cambodians that visit and there are a lot of property losers,” he said.
Licadho's operations director, Am Sam Ath, said the crackdown on gambling must be carried out like rain and with the participation of local officials in accordance with the policy of safe villages and communes. All officers and members of the armed forces must stay away from gambling and those involved in gambling are subject to legal action without exception.
“I understand that despite this large-scale crackdown, if this campaign is suspended or there is little crackdown on gambling, it is the same as in the past when there was a crackdown on gambling, but when the campaign is suspended, all kinds of gambling resumes, as in the case of wolves in the water,” Sam Ath said.
On September 17 and 18, the crackdown netted 36 cases and 70 people were arrested. This comprised 35 females, 10 Chinese, one Korean, and one Arab besides Cambodians, according to the General Commissariat of National Police.