Despite having licenses to conduct wagering, more than 20 outlets of Cambo Six, operator of betting shops in Cambodia, were shut down for ambiguous “moral reasons” by the government.
Prime Minister Hun Sen claims to be fulfilling a campaign promise, blaming the gambling shops for family unrest and other social ills. His decision apparently did not affect a large casino in Phnom Penh owned by NagaCorp. In addition, legal casinos along the border with Thailand and Vietnam remained in operation.
Senator Phu Kok An, the owner of Golden Crown Casinos, said the government directive did not affect slot machines in his border casinos.
Because Cambodian citizens are banned from gambling in these casinos, the prime minister’s edict to protect families was intact.
Operators protested, saying they had valid licenses, some running through 2011, and could not be simply canceled for no good reason.
“We told the prime minister we have an agreement; we cannot immediately end the agreement,” said Nancy Chau, manager of Cambo Six’s corporate offices.
In addition to Cambo Six, the internet gaming centers operated by Sporting Live Group were also shut down.
“We agreed to close our business in accordance with the government’s decision,” said a Sporting Live employee who requested anonymity.
“We will punish-in accordance with the law-any business licensee who disrespects this declaration,” said a government minister.
The threat apparently carried some weight.