Prime Minister Hun Sen on Dec 19 ordered police and military police to shut down 15 establishments around the country for ignoring a government directive banning Cambodians from using electronic gaming machines, also known as slot machines, according to a statement from the Information Ministry.
Hun Sen issued the directive Dec 5, which also announced that gaming machines are only allowed in hotels or licensed casinos, and that machines currently in other establishments must be removed in six months.
The Dec 19 statement from the Information Ministry said that the 15 unnamed establishments targeted for closure, “did not respect the directive from the government.”
Phnom Penh Municipal Police chief Touch Naruth said by telephone on Dec 21 that in response to Hun Sen’s directive, police shut down 13 clubs on Dec 19 in four districts—Chamkar Mon, Daun Penh, Prampi Makara and Tuol Kok.
“We still observe other clubs,” he said. “The most important thing is to prohibit Cambodians from going inside to play.”
Police in Sihanoukville only began inspecting club licenses around the municipality on Friday, said municipal police chief Tak Vantha by telephone. However, he added, no offending clubs were found.
Tak Vantha said it isn’t easy to enforce the directive because it doesn’t mention whether it applies to slot machines located in casinos.
“It’s difficult because in the directive, there is no mention about casinos,” he said. “However, we still post more police to prohibit Cambodian’s from playing [gaming machines].”
In Kandal province, police closed down one club in Takhmau district with 69 different slot machines, provincial police chief Iev Chamroeun said on Dec 21.
There are two casinos in Koh Thom district near the Vietnam border and they will be allowed to continue operations because they have proper licensing, he added.