Cambodia announced Sunday that online gambling would no longer be lawful within its borders.
According to a Reuters report, the ban has spurred a new influx of investment capital to its land-based casinos from Chinese investors. The government said that the online gambling industry was used by foreign criminals to extort money.
Prime Minster Hun Sen said the ban will apply to operators both inside and outside the country and cited the need to maintain social order in the directive. Operators currently with a government license for online gambling may continue to run their operation until the license expires.
“Some foreign criminals have taken refuge in the form of this gambling to cheat and extort money from victims, domestic and abroad, which affect the security, public order and social order,” the directive signed by the Prime Minister said.
Last week, there were 127 Chinese nationals arrested in Sihanoukville. They were charged with extortion and operation of an illegal online gambling ring. Sihanoukville, located on the southern coast of the country, is a hub for many Chinese-run gambling rings that operate online.
China is one of Cambodia’s closest allies, as well as the source of most of the country’s investments. China has been pushing for the Philippines to crack down on internet gambling operations as well.
There are 25 casinos in the country, with 16 located in Sihanoukville. It wasn’t until last year that the government even considered letting its own citizens gamble in the casinos.