Commercial Gambling Management Commission of Cambodia (CGMC) has organised a workshop to disseminate information about the Law on the Management of Integrated Resorts and Commercial Gambling to authorities at all levels as a basis for their cooperation with all relevant institutions for higher efficiency in enforcement and regulation of all gambling activities, both legal and illegal.

The workshop was held in Phnom Penh on October 4 with participation by representatives from the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, Court of Appeal and Phnom Penh Court of Appeal as well as the capital and provincial courts, judges, prosecutors and police chiefs for a total of about 200 people in attendance.

The workshop aimed to raise awareness about the laws governing commercial gambling and of other related legal documents in the field of commercial gambling in order to understand each other and to increase the interconnectedness under the CGMC of all relevant authorities.

The workshop also had the goal of promoting and strengthening the implementation of the gambling law to ensure the effective management of casino operations, transparency and accountability, good public order. It is to ensure that these enterprises contribute to the Kingdom’s economic growth through tourism and jobs creation in order to increase the nation’s budget, while maintain public safety and enhance social security.

Minister of Economy and Finance and CGMC chairman Aun Pornmoniroth said that the effective implementation of this law would strengthen the management of the gambling sector to provide maximum benefit to the national economy and all Cambodian people through the establishment of appropriate mechanisms to strengthen security, safety and social order.

Pornmoniroth added that in response to the current situation where the spread of illegal gambling has become concerning and there continues to be widespread promotion of legalised gambling, the government has set up a working group to crackdown on all types of illegal gambling through its decision No. 62 dated September 16.

“This working group has the main role and responsibility for planning, rules and guidelines for authorities at all levels in cracking down on illegal gambling and cooperating with the authorities at the national and sub-national levels to research and take action against illegal gambling sites,” he said.

Bun Honn, Interior Ministry secretary of state and deputy chairman of the commission stated that through this workshop one would then clearly understand the concepts, policies and vision of the government in development of integrated business gaming and the tourism business gambling sector.

“Therefore, I sincerely hope that the effective implementation of this law will strengthen the regulation of the casino and commercial gambling sector, which will maximise its benefits to the national economy,” he said.

The People’s Centre for Development and Peace (PDP) president Yong Kim Eng said that crackdown on illegal gambling was not easy to do and that it required transparency and highly committed mechanisms for ongoing enforcement.

He noted that the authorities’ efforts were generally a good thing, but all operations must be carried out equally against every legitimate target and without any exceptions.

“The illegal gambling crackdown must be done thoroughly, with the prior planning done by the government and inspections at the communities that have problems with gambling,” he said.

He said that the concern was that some illegal gambling operations actually had government or even law enforcement officials either running them or benefiting from them and this would lead to much less effective crackdowns.

“The state must take strong action in these cases or else illegal gambling in the community will inevitably continue,” he said.

Sok Phal, head of the national working group to crack down on illegal gambling, said that the authorities had shut down about 90 per cent of all illegal gambling in the country and that Preah Sihanouk province was clearly the primary focus of the government’s efforts in this regard.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 17 also instructed authorities at all levels to combat all illegal gambling. He said it depends on local authorities such as the commune, district and provincial police to carry out their duties. He said: “What is important is whether you want to do it or not.”