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Illegal Gambling Crackdown in Cambodia Leads to Decrease in Criminal Activities

The prevalence of illegal casinos and online gambling operators in Cambodia has been directly tied to a surge in criminal incidents, including cases of human trafficking and torture. As a response to international outcry, Cambodia initiated measures to clamp down on these unlawful operations, yielding promising results.

Illegal Gambling Crackdown in Cambodia Leads to Decrease in Criminal Activities

Once poised to emerge as a prominent casino destination, the Cambodian city of Sihanoukville faced a rapid decline and subsequently became a hotbed of lawlessness. This environment of disorder extended to other areas like Poipet.

Amidst reports of repeated kidnappings, torture, and human trafficking involving tens of thousands of victims, Cambodia took a proactive stance. Recent statistics released by the Cambodian government showcase a significant reduction in human trafficking cases, seemingly correlated with a decline in illegal gambling activities across the nation.

Data compiled from various online sources, where complaints can be submitted, indicates a total of 1,036 reported human trafficking cases as of last week. Notably, the majority of these cases involve foreigners. Out of the reported cases, 989 investigations resulted in 338 arrests and the shutdown of five businesses. Currently, 47 cases remain open, while 338 have been officially closed.

Chou Bun Eng, Cambodia's Secretary of State of the Ministry of the Interior and NCCT Vice Chair, discussed the ongoing efforts to combat human trafficking. Eng downplayed the severity of the state-led investigation in comparison to international media portrayals, pointing out that the decline in complaints reflects Cambodia's progress.

Eng suggested that many victims of human trafficking were associated with international crime groups. She emphasized Cambodia's success by highlighting the decreasing number of complaints, even reaching zero in certain weeks.

According to the NCCT, investigators had to address 359 human trafficking cases in 2021, a number that dropped to 166 the following year. With Cambodia undergoing political transitions, human rights groups are optimistic that the new leadership will continue to uphold the established initiatives.

Despite the concerted efforts to revamp its image, Cambodia faces opposition from certain quarters. Notably, billboards promoting online gambling appeared near the Poipet Customs and Excise Office in defiance of the government's crackdown. Authorities swiftly removed these billboards, and an investigation is underway to identify the parties responsible for their installation.

As Cambodia persists in its campaign against illegal gambling and related crimes, it encounters challenges and resistance from various segments within the country.



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