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Cambodia Looks to Law Overhaul in Efforts to Combat Illegal Gambling

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The Ministry of Interior in Cambodia is taking steps to overhaul its gambling legislation in an effort to combat illegal gambling activities effectively.

The ministry aims to align the existing Law on Suppression of Gambling with the more recent Law on Commercial Gambling Management. This initiative comes as part of Cambodia's efforts to keep pace with technological advancements in the digital age and enhance its ability to suppress and eliminate illegal gambling.

Cambodia's Efforts to Modernize Gambling Laws

Undersecretary of State at the Interior Ministry, Try Sokheng, recently chaired a technical working group meeting on January 23, where discussions regarding these crucial amendments took place. The first task at hand for the working group is to conduct thorough research and collect documents related to both national and international laws. This research will serve as the foundation for aligning the 1996 Law on Suppression of Gambling with the 2020 Law on Commercial Gambling Management.

According to Try Sokheng, the driving force behind these amendments is the need to adapt to technological advancements that have transformed the landscape of gambling in the digital age. The goal is to strengthen the government's ability to suppress and eradicate illegal gambling activities effectively.

While the Ministry of Interior focuses on amending and drafting gambling-related laws, experts like Yong Kim Eng, President of the People's Centre for Development and Peace, emphasize the importance of inspecting residential areas to prevent local authorities from issuing permits for gambling operations. If permits for brick-and-mortar casinos and gambling establishments are granted at the local level, eradicating gambling becomes a more challenging task, potentially pushing small-scale gambling dens to larger and more problematic establishments.

Yong Kim Eng stressed the need for clear definitions of authorized gambling locations to curb the prevalence of both legal and illegal gambling nationwide. He noted that merely amending laws isn't enough if law enforcement agencies cannot effectively crack down on illegal gambling, which can perpetuate covert monetary transactions and contribute to the impoverishment of people.

Fines, Imprisonment, and Efforts for Reform

According to Article 5 of the 1996 Law on Suppression of Gambling, individuals involved in unauthorized gambling dens or gambling agent management could face fines ranging from five to 20 million riel ($1,225 to $5,000) and imprisonment sentences ranging from one to five years. Article 10 of the same law emphasizes that only the government has the authority to authorize gambling activities, and permitting gambling without government authorization could lead to imprisonment of up to five years.

The Ministry of Interior's efforts to amend and improve gambling laws are part of a broader six-point policy introduced during the seventh government mandate. This policy addresses various issues, including gambling, drug-related problems, criminal offenses, gang-related concerns, traffic accidents, human trafficking, and border-related challenges.

In conclusion, Cambodia's Ministry of Interior is taking proactive steps to modernize its gambling legislation, recognizing the need to combat illegal gambling effectively. Aligning the existing laws with the changing gambling landscape in the digital age is essential to ensure the integrity of the gaming industry and protect the interests of the Cambodian people.

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