Cambodian authorities continue to express amazement that there are any Chinese people left in China, as they all seem to be in Cambodia running illegal online gambling operations.
On Wednesday, immigration police in the city of Siem Reap arrested 19 Chinese nationals suspected of illegal online gambling activities following raids on three separate dwellings in this northwestern region. The raids were reportedly launched with the assistance of an undercover informant.
The Phnom Penh Post quoted the officer who led the raids saying the police were dealing with language issues but suggested the suspects could face up to five years in prison depending on what police learned about “the scope of the gambling they operated.”
To date, the cops have only said the suspects “sell accounts for online games.” This could mean that the gang offered local residents’ access to computer terminals logged on to online gambling sites.
Tellingly, the top cop said the accused would face trial at the Siem Reap Provincial Court, which strongly suggests the gang’s gambling clientele were local Cambodians, not fellow Chinese back home. Previous incidents in which suspects were caught operating gambling sites that catered to foreigners have resulted in the suspects’ immediate deportation to their home countries to face the music.
Many small casinos in Cambodian border towns offer online gambling but Cambodians aren’t allowed to access these services. Cambodia has publicly mused about relaxing the restriction on locals gambling – prodded in part by similar discussions going on over the border in neighboring in Vietnam – but the government has so far taken no concrete steps to treat its citizens as adults.