Kampong Speu provincial governor Vei Samnang has instructed town and district governors throughout the province to cease the creation of new lottery businesses and crack down on all illegal games of chance. 

He emphasised the necessity to act against all forms of gambling, irrespective of their legal status.

In a letter dated February 9, Samnang stated that to ensure peace, development and the enhancement of the populace’s livelihoods, the authorities must consistently apply the safe village-commune policy and rigorously tackle all offences. The approach aims to bolster public confidence in the government and relevant authorities.

“We request town and district governors to suspend issuing licences for all types of lotto businesses and games of luck. Additionally, they must continue to investigate and suppress illegal gambling locations within their jurisdiction and pursue legal action stringently,” he added.

On February 10, the provincial police announced on social media that under the governor’s directive, they had acted to prohibit all forms of beer advertising, including posters and billboards, in an effort that has been lauded nationally as exemplary for other provinces.

“The initiative reflects the firm stance of the [governor]. The community is expected to strongly support the measure. Both town and district governors, as well as commune and village administrations, are anticipated to join in fully and effectively enforce the orders,” the police stated.

Preah Sihanouk provincial deputy governor Long Dimanche, stated on February 11 that the provincial administration has consistently directed the police to clamp down on illegal gambling. 

He said the ongoing effort is part of enforcing the safe village-commune policy and noted that the province’s commercial gambling is under continuous scrutiny by the Commercial Gambling Management Commission.

“The Ministries of Interior and Economy and Finance have overseen the operation meticulously. We are committed to preventing any form of illegal gambling at the grassroots level,” he added.

Am Sam Ath, operations director at rights group LICADHO, endorsed the actions of the Kampong Speu provincial administration, noting that gambling has impacted social security, leading to violence and thefts.

However, he cautioned that the approach would succeed only if officials at all levels adhered to and executed the orders effectively. 

Sam Ath said it is crucial that these officials refrain from participating in gambling and noted that the effectiveness of the campaign could be measured by comparing it to the successful ban on beer advertising.

“Let’s observe the effectiveness of these orders. [The] province has already achieved success in banning beer advertising; now, we await the results of the gambling crackdown. It’s vital that all authorities avoid involvement in gambling to replicate the success seen with advertising bans,” he added.