Online gambling in Cambodia will effectively become illegal from 1st January 2020, the country’s Prime Minister has confirmed.
It’s been coming
Over the weekend, Hun Sen announced that “in days to come, online gambling will completely disappear.” All licences in the country expire at the end of 2020, meaning that the Cambodian market will effectively shut down overnight.
In August, the government announced that it would stop issuing iGaming licences to operators. An official directive was signed in a bid to address illegal gambling activities here.
Along with not issuing or renewing permits, it was mentioned that gambling regulations wouldn’t be updated either. Moreover, authorities were ordered to increase their efforts to find and deal with illegal operators.
At the time, both Cambodian players and those from abroad were being targeted by unregulated brands.
At the 8th Sea Festival in Kampot Province this month, Sen said that he feared iGaming would fuel crime in the country. His words were: “if Cambodia’s economy continues to rely on online gambling, Cambodia’s national security will be compromised.”
During the same event, the Cambodian PM also said that he was worried about the country becoming “a haven for money laundering” for “organised crime groups who will come to Cambodia to carry out their activities”.
End of the road
Cambodia had previously had a more relaxed approach to online gambling. In fact, it was the Asia-Pacific region’s second-biggest iGaming spot. The Philippines, which is also looking to clamp down on illegal activity, was first.
Many operators in Cambodia were seeking to attract players from China. This has led to the Chinese authorities seeking to stop foreign sites taking local players.
Back in October, Cambodia’s finance minister warned that closing the iGaming industry would affect the government treasury. Since then, Sen has claimed that these problems will be short-lived. He also mentioned that he hopes international investors will be tempted to develop big, non-gambling projects here.