Police Raid Hotel’s Unlicensed Gaming Room

Police raided a gaming room at the Holiday International Hotel this week, causing management to pull the plug on scores of electronic gambling machines, officials said Wednesday.

Daun Penh district authorities on Monday afternoon shut off the hotel’s 64 machines, including slot machines and an electronic roulette table which they said lacked permits from the Ministry of Finance and Phnom Penh mu­nicipality, deputy district governor Hem Am said.

“They are operating these machines without all the paperwork,” he said. But he added that they produced documents from the Council of Mini­sters essentially approving the machines.

Authorities allowed the hotel to temporarily close the gaming room until its manager, who is abroad, can return and present its full government license, said Dennis Banares, the hotel’s sales and marketing manager.

Banares said the manager of the gaming room, which is run by the Malaysian-owned company MCAN GF, is due to return in the coming days. He added that the machines were legal and that police took action without a court order or explanation of any violation of the law.

None of the machines were confiscated, but the room remain­ed closed Wednesday. Hem Am said the raid was “administrative action” on behalf of the district and an investigation is continuing.

Electronic gaming has largely been confined to small operations since a government crackdown on gambling that began in 1998. In an apparent loophole in national gambling laws, the slot machine businesses are open to Cambod­ians  and avoid classification as casinos.

Underscoring the uncertainty around the licensing of slots, how­ever, Hem Am said it was un­clear whether Cambodians can play the machines at Holiday.

(Additional reporting by Lor Chan­dara)


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