Cambo Six’s 20 locations in Phnom Penh were ordered by pol-ice to stop accepting bets Wednes-day morning, an official with the company said, one day after Prime Minister Hun Sen’s surprise order to municipal officials to close the football betting shops.
Nancy Chaurles, office manager for Cambo Six, said that while the company was meeting with Fi-nance Ministry representatives to negotiate compensation for the two-plus years remaining on its le-gal betting license, police were going to the locations and closing them “one by one.”
“We have been meeting with the Finance Ministry, but in the meantime we’ve had police coming to our offices one by one to close them,” she said.
“We have customers who have already put deposits on their bets, and we have to pay out for winning bets still,” she said. “We are following the prime minister’s speech, but if we just closed right away we would be violating the law because we still have customers,” she added.
Hun Sen on Tuesday ordered the Finance Ministry to negotiate with the company over compensation for revoking its four-year license. That license, which expires in 2011, gave Cambo Six exclusive rights to accept bets on football games played around the globe.
In a nationally broadcast speech Tuesday, the prime minister said gambling was causing crime and told the municipality’s district governors to close the Cambo Six locations as well as ban electronic gambling machines in the city.
Finance Ministry Secretary of State Chea Peng Chheang, who oversees the gambling industry for his ministry, confirmed negotiations were taking place Wednes-day, but referred questions to the ministry’s director of financial in-dustry, Mey Vann, who he said was handling the negotiations. Mey Vann hung up his phone af-ter a reporter identified himself Wednesday, and did not answer subsequent phone calls.
Chamkar Mon District Gover-nor Lou Yuy said a City Hall official had called him to tell him customers were not to place new bets at Cambo Six.
He said he would send officials to the five branches in his district to enforce the order.
“We will not allow the customers to place bets. When we have the green light, we will completely close the offices,” he said, adding that many people had contacted him praising the prime minister’s decision to close the centers.
At least two Cambo Six locations in the city were closed Wednesday, with several others nearly empty, with employees barred from ac-cepting new customers.
Russei Keo district Deputy Gov-ernor Nouth Pouth Dara said he had led police into a Cambo Six of-fice to close it, saying the branch’s license had expired more than one month ago. Dangkao district Gover-nor Kruoch Phan said he had officials close a branch in his district, saying the office’s lease had expired.
Cambo Six Administrative Chief Heng Say said by phone he was not sure of the status of the company’s two Siem Reap branches or Preah Sihanouk province location.