Authorities have revealed that eight men detained while trying to cross the border from Thailand into Cambodia were on their way to work in an online casino based in Poipet.
According to The Khmer Times, the Thai nationals were stopped by Thai Border Guard Forces shortly after 5am on Sunday. When questioned, they said they had been trying to get to work at the online casino and had engaged people smugglers to help them do so.
Their efforts come after Cambodia stopped issuing online gaming licenses from August 2019 and refused to renew existing licenses when they expired on 1 January 2020 following a directive from Prime Minister Hun Sen.
That statement read, “The Royal Government stops granting principles and licenses to operate online gambling businesses inside and outside Cambodia from the day of signature on this directive onwards.
“For valid licenses holders, they will be allowed to operate until the licenses are expired. After that, the Ministry of Economy and Finance will not renew their licenses anymore.”
The directive was believed to have followed pressure from China, which has outlined a clear stance against any nations that target Chinese citizens for online or offline gambling purposes.
Cambodia has long been renowned for the number of casino licenses issued, with many land-based casinos in places like Poipet and Sihanoukville primarily used as a base for online operations.
However, within a month of the ban on running online gaming operations, the Cambodian government announced that more than 200,000 Chinese nationals had left the country – most said to have been working for those online operators.
The eight men arrested Sunday had been trying to cross the border in breach of recent border closures. Cambodia also revealed last week that it was temporarily shutting down eight provinces bordering Thailand, including Banteay Meanchey Province where Poipet is located, to help stop the spread of the Delta variant.