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Cambodia Arrests 1,200+ in H1 2023 Illegal Gambling Crackdown
Cambodia has continued its rigorous crackdown on illegal gambling throughout the first half of this year, resulting in the arrest of over 1,000 individuals involved in various illicit activities. According to National Police spokesperson Lieutenant General Chhay Kim Khoeun, a total of 1,241 people were apprehended during operations conducted over the specified period.
Educating Offenders and Pursuing Legal Action
Among the detainees, 782 individuals received instructions and education regarding refraining from gambling activities in the future. However, in 459 cases, the offenses were deemed serious enough to warrant court proceedings. Lieutenant General Chhay emphasized the unwavering commitment of the police force in cracking down on illegal gambling operations across the country, aligning with the government’s broader initiative to eliminate this practice entirely. Prime Minister Hun Sen had pledged to eradicate illegal gambling from Cambodia back in September 2022, providing explicit instructions to the police to carry out this mission.
Positive Impact on Cambodia’s Reputation
By following through with this commitment, Cambodia managed to be removed from the Financial Action Task Force’s list, which identifies countries with inadequate anti-money laundering (AML) regulations and widespread illicit activities detrimental to foreign investors. The association between gambling and serious crimes like human trafficking and kidnappings had cast a negative light on Cambodia internationally.
Pressure from China and Ongoing Efforts
Cambodia faced external pressure from China, a crucial trade and economic partner, to regulate its gambling industry. As a result, the government ceased issuing new licenses for online gambling operations in 2019. The recent crackdown serves as a significant update on the country’s efforts to combat illegal gambling, showcasing Cambodia’s progress in addressing this pressing issue. Nevertheless, the high number of arrests suggests that illegal gambling still thrives in certain circles within the nation.