Online Gambling Ban In Effect For Cambodia

Published January 22, 2020 by Sol FH

Online Gambling Ban In Effect For Cambodia

The decision to ban all iGaming in Cambodia comes after a decision in August 2019 takes effect.

Cambodian players that want to gamble online are out of luck as of Jan. 1, 2020 after a decision by the government of Cambodia to ban iGaming in the country from August 2019 put into effect on the 1st of January. With the decision, a major loss of jobs of over 7,700 people in addition to the closure of a number of casinos. 

Sihanoukville, Cambodia, the southern coastal city emerged as a gambling center, but, corruption and illegal activity were rampant and are blamed for the ban, which, according to Prime Minister Hun Sen were getting out of hand. Online gambling in Cambodia was being used by criminals to launder money and to extort. Most of the iGaming platforms in Cambodia were operated by shady Chinese-led operators, which included online and still some land-based operations. 

Surprisingly, it is the government of China that pressured Cambodia into the ban, as the Chinese are very strict against the industry. Since the ban was announced in August, over 400,000 Chinese nationals have left the country. 

As of January 1, the Cambodian government reported that no illegal online gambling activities had taken place, but they will continue their inspections. There are major compliance and regulations issues associated with this decision and all of the country's casinos will be audited during the first weeks of the new year to ensure no illegal activity is taking place. 

Most of the operators in Cambodia were wise and did not wait for the ban to begin to get out of the country. In December, it was noted that only 136 casinos were still operational therein. 

Budget Hit

The iGaming industry in Cambodia was immense and generated a ton of tax revenue. Millions of dollars will be lost but such is expected and the government was prepared for this. Even still, an estimated $80 million in tax revenue is expected to be lost. The Cambodian people go where the money is, as many of the 7,700 people that worked in the industry came from factories looking for better wages. 

Yov Khemara, the labor department chief of Sihanoukville, related, ”Before, they worked in factories and when there was better salary in casinos, they came to work in casinos.”


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