Cambodia may be facing the risk of losing its Vietnamese VIPs soon, but that’s not deterring authorities from enforcing its ban on locals gambling.
Sihanoukville officials are asking casinos in the seaside province to start enforcing the laws, which they claimed have been “widely flouted” recently. According to the Phnom Penh Post, Preah Sihanouk Governor Yun Min issued a statement on January 20 in which he called for “increased vigilance” following reports of “an increase in the number of Cambodians gambling.”
“There are some casinos that do not comply with the government’s strict instructions and have allowed Cambodian clients to gamble, resulting in impacts on public order and social security,” the report stated, quoting Min’s announcement.
Sihanoukville City Gov. Y Sokleng, however, insisted the government has no authority to enforce the ban.
“It is not related to city administration. And secondly, regarding Cambodians gambling, in the past, the city had invited casinos and instructed them not to allow Cambodian people to play,” Sokleng told the news outlet.
Cambodia currently has 65 licensed casinos, most of which are based in border towns serving punters from Vietnam and Thailand. These casinos, however, are at risk of losing its Vietnamese VIPs since Vietnam will soon be allowing residents to gamble in select casinos.
Under the three-year pilot program, local residents will be allowed to gamble at two select casinos—one in Quang Ninh province and the other on Phu Quoc island. Both casinos are yet to be built and are not readily accessible to residents of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
Analysts believe Vietnam’s casino program, which will run for three years, may pose a problem for border casinos, especially those located in cities like Bavet, which is the international border gate between Cambodia and Vietnam. Union Gaming analyst Grant Govertsen warned that many gambling establishments will “struggle to survive over the duration of the three-year Vietnam locals pilot program.”