A new police official has ordered officers to crack down on illegal gambling in a southwestern Cambodian coastal province that is a tourism destination, warning them that he will take administrative action against law enforcers who permit it to continue.
Chhoun Narin, the newly appointed provincial police chief of Sihanoukville, told law enforcement officers on Wednesday to eradicate gambling across the province in the forms of illegal betting on soccer games, cockfighting and other gangster-run operations, a police officer who refused to be identified told RFA’s Khmer Service.
Sihanoukville city police chief Phol Posda said he would implement Chhoun Narin’s order.
“I already have reported the illegal gambling in the province,” he said. “I already have prepared forces awaiting the order [to stop those illegal gambling].”
Nongovernmental organizations and villagers in the province said illegal gambling is on the rise, especially with betting on an illegal off-shore lottery, soccer games and cockfighting in places close to the city police station.
“Brothels are hiding under message parlors, and soccer bookies are hiding under coffee shops,” said a villager who declined to be named.
Sihanoukville Provincial Governor Chhit Sokhun said he supported the move to crack down on gamblers and urged all police officers to report to him if those who operate illegal gambling places use their connections to powerful people to avoid arrest.
“During those raids if the police officers encounter problems when illegal gambling operators use powerful people to protect them, I will report those issues to the government so it can take further measures,” he said.
Last October, five men, including a foreign national, were arrested for operating an illegal online sports betting site in Sihanoukville province, local reports said.
Reported by Den Ayuthya for RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.