Holiday is Over: Cambodia Shuts Down Online Play

Published August 26, 2019 by Lee R

Holiday is Over: Cambodia Shuts Down Online Play

Too much illegal manipulation through iGaming sites is shuttering the Cambodia market.

A new and extreme gambling ban announced in Cambodia has resulted in an influx of Chinese investment.

Chinese Investment in Favour

The otherwise Draconian measure is reportedly garnering increased investment from China, ending an era in which the industry in that country had been used by foreign criminals to extort money.

Illegal Activity Proliferates Hubs

The ban snuffs out activity in Cambodian hubs such as the southern coastal city of Sihanoukville where a number of Chinese-run casinos had sprung up. Also in Shihanouk, illegal operators had concentrated to exploit iGaming offerings by cheating and extort money from players.

The Ban Order

These will be effectively shuttered with the directive signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen stating that "the Royal Government of Cambodia will stop the issuance of online gambling policy and licenses, both within and outside of the Kingdom of Cambodia, from the date of signing this directive.”

Criminal Exploitation

Sen further explicitly asserted his consternation for the fact that "foreign criminals have taken refuge in the form of this gambling to cheat and extort money from victims, domestic and abroad, which affect the security, public order and social order."

China's Influence

Harsh words on paper, but in the greater continuum in keeping with the policies of key donor and investor China, which has been critical of neighbours offering cross-border gambling, with the Philippines already on the hot seat as a subject of scorn and scrutiny from the economically dominant Communist neighbour.

Many Undetected Illegal Sites

Beyond Chinese disapproval, the problem in Cambodia arises from the fact that of the estimated 150 licenses rewarded, no small percentage of illegal operators have remained active in the country, victimizing Cambodian and foreign players.

The Last of the Operators

With no new licenses being issued, the concluding activity will be provided by current licensees who will continue to operate until their certification expires.

Regional Outlook

An additional directive calling on law enforcement officials to intensify their search for unlicensed operators and crack down on illegal activity calls for an adieu bid to the Cambodian market, in direct contrast to Philippines where the market is strengthening and will likely host more Chinese players now than ever before.

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