Cambodian strong man Hun Sen is not relenting on his promise to ban online gambling in his country by January, 2020. It’s a move that seems counter intuitive to the layman as it will likely cost the country millions in lost tax revenue and will surely open the door for unregulated gambling activity in the future.

In an address to the attendees of the 8th Sea Festival in Kampot province, Prime Minister Sen promised that, “in days to come, online gambling will completely disappear,” according to a report in the Phnom Pen Post.

He went on to describe his decision as a means of fighting organized crime saying, “So what do you really want? To me, if Cambodia’s economy continues to rely on online gambling, Cambodia’s national security will be compromised. We’ll be under the threat of organised crime groups who will come to Cambodia to carry out their activities. We’ll also find ourselves in a situation in which Cambodia becomes a haven for money laundering as a result of online gambling.”

Sen is particularly worried that the presence of even a regulated online gambling industry could give Cambodia an unwanted, and undeserved, reputation as a haven for money laundering. That, he believes, will then slow the flow of legitimate international investment.

He also downplayed the short term impact of the ban saying, “We accept that when it’s banned, there will be short-term effects on hotels, casinos and guesthouses rented out for gambling operations. It will affect staff in the sectors – maybe hundreds or thousands of people – as well as tax collections.

“But I think the income generated from this isn’t much,” he concluded. A statement which will proven, one way or another, in 2020.


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