According to reports, gambling operators from China may not be leaving Cambodia in droves after all. For now, there is serious doubt as regards the status of the online betting ban in Cambodia.
On Wednesday, Global Times, a state-run media outlet in China, got a statement from a reporter from the People’s Daily Lin Jiaxu. He disputed widespread claims that Chinese nationals were leaving Cambodia after the government said they were putting an end to their online betting licensing system last month.
The Sihanoukville region of Cambodia saw a massive inflow of Chinese nationals in the past few years, was allegedly the base where most of these Chinese nationals chose to flee. The Chinese people were said to own close to three-quarters of the casinos in Sihanoukville. Most of these facilities offer online gambling facilities that catered to the needs of mainland Chinese clients.
According to the Global Times, Lin said that the number of Chinese nationals who left Cambodia was
“in the region of 3,000 to 5,000, and most of them were driven out by the country’s online gambling ban.”
Lin said most of these Chinese nationals that came to the city have a believe that Cambodia’s gambling industry was a ‘shortcut to wealth via cheating and extortion.’
While the People’s Republic of China commended the decision taken by the Cambodia government to stop issuing new online gambling licenses, they were also proud of the country’s pledge of not renewing existing licenses the moment they expire. The government is still working out the intricacies of implementing this plan.
The Nikkei Asian Review, last week, quoted the deputy director of the Ministry of Economy and Finance in Cambodia, Ros Phearun, saying
“the government was not sure yet if it’s an absolute ban or not.”
As suggested by Phearun, he said that stakeholders should
“wait and see the [long-delayed gambling] draft law first.”
The Cambodian government has made several promises about delivering their new gambling legislation for a long time, and the latest deadline for this to be achieved has been set to the start of next year.
Some of the gambling licensees in Cambodia have expressed doubts about the commitment of the government to the online ban. To ease the mind of people, Phearun’s comments were contradicted by his boss, Mey Vann, who is a director-general. He told the Nikkei Asian Review when asked for comments that the ban was final. Mey Vann said officials of the government do not want the industry waiting and doubting.