Thai police have ordered officers working at the border crossing across from Poipet to step up measures intended to prevent Thais from gambling in Cambodia, the Bangkok Post newspaper reported Sunday.
“Under the new policy, immigration police must not allow anyone to cross the border without checking immigration papers and recording the information, and must not allow Thais to cross the border for the purpose of gambling,” the newspaper reported.
It said that Thai Region 2 police commander Jongrak Jathanont ordered his subordinates to seal off a secret path used by brokers to sneak Thai gamblers into Poipet and to crack down on brokers renting false passports to Thai nationals.
While it is illegal in Thailand to gamble, it is not illegal for Thai tourists to gamble in Cambodia’s many border casinos, Thai Ambassador Piyawat Niyomrerks said by phone Sunday.
“I have no information about a new policy,” he said. “It has always been the policy to discourage Thai citizens from gambling in the casinos…. It is not illegal, no.”
It is illegal for Cambodians to gamble or even to enter Cambodian casinos, however.
Bun Hor, the international checkpoint chief at Poipet, said he has not seen any new activities from his Thai counterparts.
“They just are strict to their people as they have been for months,” Bun Hor said. “For five months they also check every Cambodian as well.”
Bun Hor said between 300 to 400 Thais visit Poipet daily, with more entering Cambodia on Saturdays and Sundays.
“When I have a meeting with the Thais I always raise the issue of their restrictions,” he said. “They agreed that they will not do anything to affect tourism.”
Bun Hor said the main way that the Thais discourage gambling is by using cameras at the checkpoint to record faces. Thai authorities have threatened to demote any officials caught crossing with the intention of gambling here.
“Their actions do not affect tourism,” Bun Hor said.
“Most Thai people crossing here come in order to visit the casinos, because it is illegal in their country,” said Pich Saran, the immigration police chief at the checkpoint.