Expats in Cambodia hail sudden ban on online gambling

Posted on 11 Sep at 6 PM in Relocation
Story link: Expats in Cambodia hail sudden ban on online gambling
Expats in Cambodia hail sudden ban on online gambling

Expats in Cambodia hail sudden ban on online gambling

Expats who arrived in Cambodia before the influx of what seems like millions of Chinese are hoping against hope their lives will return to normal.

For a decade or so, Cambodia was a popular location for Western expats for its charm, friendliness and inexpensive cost of living. Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap were favourites with retirees and small business owners until the government allowed unchecked numbers of Chinese developers to arrive and take over, buying out Cambodian businesses, wrecking the environment and building literally hundreds of casinos catering for Chinese clients arriving to gamble. Other casinos specialised in online gambling, popular in China as on-street gambling is prohibited by the regime.

The former resort town of Sihanoukville was worst affected by the influx, becoming a trash-filled building site with Chinese ownership of stores, restaurants, hotels and bars, all run by Chinese for Chinese immigrants working in the construction industry. Locals left and expats followed, but many more who’d planned to move from Thailand to Cambodia were left with nowhere as convenient for a new retirement destination. Cambodia’s sudden move to ban online gambling has sent shock-waves through the Chinese community and resulted in a mass exodus for those involved in the dozens of online casinos in the city. Media reports suggest some 120,000 Chinese have headed for the border over the past two weeks, although other reports state a similar number have since arrived in Cambodia.

According to the Cambodian Interior Ministry, tourists and investors are still arriving, adding the online gambling industry was being used by ‘foreign’ criminals to illegally extort money. All related Chinese businesses must now close down by the end of this year, with 127 Chinese arrested last week for their involvement in an internet scam and extortion ring. Expats still living in Cambodia are stunned by the ban and are hoping for its total success, with Cambodian rights groups concerned over China’s economic penetration of their country now praising the move and its resultant mass departures. However, what’s good news for Cambodia may well be bad news for Thailand, as large groups of Chinese have been seen crossing the border into its next door neighbour.

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