1,000 arrested in Chinese and Cambodian gambling crackdown

23 September 2019

Joint efforts from police in China and Cambodia to combat illegal online gambling in both countries have led to the arrest of almost 1,000 people so far this year.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen agreed the cooperation in January of this year and, according to the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, the arrangement is proving effective.

As of August 30, almost 1,000 Chinese people have been arrested in Cambodia in connection with the crackdown, including 335 individuals directly involved with illegal online gambling.

Prime Minister Hun Sen also last month signed a government order to introduce an outright ban on online gaming in the country and, according to the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, this led to various operators withdrawing from Cambodia.

Since the order came into effect on August 31, Chinese and Cambodian police have upped their efforts to identify and shut down illegal gambling businesses.

During the weeks that the order has been effective, these police efforts helped to uncover a number of telecommunications fraud and online gambling dens in Sihanoukville, Chaibu and Phnom Penh. Police arrested 176 criminal suspects in the process of these raids.

The Cambodian government hopes to shut down its iGaming industry by the end of the year, with no more licences to be awarded, while current permits will not be renewed when they expire at the end of 2019.

Earlier this month, Cambodian Police Chief Nesavan also visited China to sign off on a new Memorandum of Understanding to establish a coordination office for law enforcement cooperation between the two countries.

The MoU will see the Chinese Ministry of Public Security send police experts and technicians to Cambodia to support the Cambodian police with their investigations into illegal gambling activities.

China has been pushing for more Southeast Asian nations to ban online gambling amid claims that offshore operators are harming its citizens.

Such calls have prompted the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to put a halt to the issuing of igaming licences at least until the end of 2019.

Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has also ordered the country’s Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to shut down the operations of Philippines Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) that fail or refuse to pay income tax.