An online gambling ban will take effect on January 1st in Cambodia, with the region’s Prime Minister confirming the ban. According to Prime Minister Hun Sen, in the days to come, online gambling will disappear. Comments made by the PM make it crystal clear that no new licenses will be issued and all online gambling license in the country will expire.
During the 8th Sea Festival in Kampot, Hun Sen told those in attendance that if the country continues to relay on online gambling, then national security will be compromised. According to the PM, the country is at risk of becoming a haven for money laundering as well as organized crime groups that use the region for their illegal activities.
Over the years, new casino licenses have been granted in the region which allows for online gambling. Cambodia has been able to become the second largest hub for online gambling in the Asia-Pacific region next to the Philippines. The sites target players from mainland China.
Back in October, the finance minister of Cambodia stated that the government treasury would suffer if the local online gambling industry is shut down. For PM Hun Sen, he says the local economy will only see a short-lived blow and will be getting rid of gambling related crime which will incentivize international investors to create non-gaming projects in the region.
While the ban will take effect as 2020 begins, it is unclear how the authorities in Cambodia plan on enforcing the new ban. It would not be surprising to find that China helps in any way possible as the country is trying to get neighbors to stop unauthorized online gambling for local economies to see a long-term benefit.
It is believed that the directive by Hun Sen is a response to the efforts of China to prevent gambling sites in nearby countries from catering to gamblers from the mainland.