Cambodian telecom firm CooTel has launched a new online lottery in the kingdom, just two months after being accused of operating an illegal lottery.
On Wednesday, Cootel officials announced the official launch of KhmerLottery, which the company developed in conjunction with Dream Win Corporation. The launch brings the country’s number of officially licensed lottery operators to six.
To start, KhmerLottery offers Cambodians the opportunity to play 5D (five-digit) lottery games via desktop computers, smartphones and SMS texts. Seven-digit games and other products will be introduced later if there’s sufficient demand.
The Khmer Times quoted KhmerLottery executive director Pich Chetra saying the company had registered with the Ministry of Economy and Finance in December 2015, and had deposited the legally required $5m reserve fund with the National Bank of Cambodia.
Chetra said his company was “fully responsible” and would serve as a proper alternative to illegal online gambling operators. Chetra insisted that his firm “want illegal gambling and lotteries to be combated.”
Chetra’s desire to see his illegal competitors punished is understandable, although it doesn’t explain why a CooTel branch in the province of Siem Reap was raided by police in early March over what the local deputy chief claimed was an illegal “numbers game similar to the Vietnamese lottery and Thai lottery.” Operating an illegal lottery in Cambodia carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
So did CooTel launch its lottery service before receiving the official say-so from ministry officials, or was this a case of overzealous Kambodian Keystone Kops not getting the memo? Either way, it seems a $5m show of good faith was enough to buy CooTel a pass.
Lotteries are about the only legal gambling options available to Cambodian citizens in their homeland, as only foreigners are allowed in the country’s land-based casinos.