Internet Gaming Shops Shut Down in B’bang

Two Internet cafe owners were released from police custody on Thursday after agreeing to close their shops in Battambang City after police raided them following a complaint from concerned parents.

The government banned Internet cafes, where many students spend countless hours playing online video games, from within 500 meters of schools in November 2013. The circular, signed by Telecommunications Minister Prak Sokhon, also banned students under the age of 18 from entering such Internet parlors in an effort to keep them focused on studies.

Phan Sok Chamroeun, 20, the owner of an Internet shop in Svay Por commune, and Chum Sokhai, 20, the owner of another shop in the same commune, were arrested on Wednesday and released Thursday.

“We ordered officers to crack down on these locations because they are near schools and many students skipped school to use the shops every day,” said Chet Vanny, provincial deputy police chief. “We got complaints from parents.”

Mr. Vanny said officers seized 100 computers and “educated” 30 students, aged 8 to 18, about the dangers of gaming.

Meng Lieng, chief of the provincial minor crimes bureau, said police investigated the shops for three months before taking action.

“We are still investigating to crack down on more [shops],” he said. “These two shops had all their equipment confiscated and brought to keep at the provincial police station.”

In Phnom Penh, shop owners weren’t concerned about the possibility of police knocking on their doors anytime soon.

Chhuon Sothea, the manager of PS Internet Shop in Phsar Thmei III commune, near Phnom Daun Penh Primary School and Phrea Sisowat High School, said he’s never had a run-in with the cops.

Mr. Sothea said he bans students under 18 from entering his shop using his own keen discretion.

“There is not any impact to the students because we ban them from coming in,” he said.

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