R’kiri Police Officials Say No Dice to Closing Border Casino

More than 20 police and military police officers in Ratanakkiri province yesterday conducted an investigation into the accusation that an unlicensed casino has been operating near the Vietnam border since Nov 5, police officials said.

Provincial police chief Ray Rai said he led forces to the O’Yadaw district’s Paknhai commune, where a gambling operation has allegedly been running without a license.

“When we arrived at the site, we just saw a few Vietnamese playing cards and a lottery on a small scale for entertainment, not a big gambling operation,” Mr Rai said.

On Sept 22, the Council of Ministers agreed in principle to allow AHS King Group Co Ltd to build and run entertainment venues—such as a casino operation, markets and restaurants—in the remote area near the Cambodia-Vietnam border, he added.

“The company is in the process of attaining a license for casino operations,” Mr Rai said. “In the past two weeks, the company has been giving Vietnamese people a chance to play cards and dice for entertainment, because it has been given the rights for a three-month testing phase to determine the number of foreign guests who might come and play.”

Police and military police interviewed both Cambodian employees and company representatives, Mr Rai said.

“Our finding is that there is no gambling with slot machines, cock fighting…and other types of gambling on a large scale of a casino,” he said.

O’Yadaw district police chief Ma Vichet said the unlicensed casino was just a hall with zinc roofs to provide shade.

“There are four kinds of card and dice games during the testing phase,” Mr Vichet said.

Both Mr Rai and Mr Vichet interpreted such gaming as “not illegal.”

Pen Bonnar, provincial coordinator for the rights group Adhoc, which filed a three-page complaint about the casino to the provincial court’s prosecutor last Friday seeking “an immediate closure of the gambling in the alleged casino,” expressed his regret.

“It doesn’t matter how small-scale the gambling is, it is still illegal because the government has been working hard to eliminate all forms of gambling,” Bonnar said to media sources.


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