Up to 120,000 Chinese nationals may have exited Cambodia during the two weeks following an Aug. 18 online gambling ban.
Bradley Murg, director of Global Development Studies at Seattle Pacific University, where he also teaches political science, told Casino.org the 120,000 figure “does not sound accurate to me.”
From the [Radio Free Asia] report, it appears to be the total number of Chinese passport holders who have departed, which would include tourists, those travelling for business, etc., rather than a specific count of Chinese residents who have left,” Murg said about the Cambodian estimates. “My sources in Sihanoukville gave me a number of 10,000 or so.
Murg added that in the city of Bavet, “estimates from Chinese sources was around two-thirds of the gaming folks [left]. But no one had a solid estimate as to the size of the community as a whole.”
Last month, Cambodia announced it would stop giving out licenses for online gambling to help curb criminal activity, according to Xinhua, the state-run news agency in China.
For instance, in April, a casino in Sihanoukville was accused of beating eight Chinese gamblers suspected by casino management of cheating.
“The prime minister’s order in mid-August to stop issuing new licenses and to let existing licenses expire was followed by a new round of arrests in Sihanoukville and Bavet, with suspects handed over … to the Chongqing police and deported to China to face criminal charges there,” Murg said.
Will Gambling Employees Return to Cambodia?
Longer-term, it is unclear what the future of online gaming will be in Cambodia. Cambodia was basically used as a place to harbor shady characters who were extorting folks back home, now they’re scurrying out of Cambodia.
Cambodia has an image problem, with Chinese nationals running amok, and so the authorities can look like they’re finally doing something about it. Of course, whether this is really the end of it remains to be seen.
It’s easy to buy a plane ticket out. It’s also easy to buy a plane ticket back in. This could just be a lay low and regroup period. The key is whether a year from now the situation in Cambodia will really be different.