The Cambodian gambling industry has been thrown into uncertainty by the arbitrary cancellation last week of gambling licenses as the minister of Finance, Keat Chhon, complies with an overall requirement from the country's prime minister Hun Sen to curtail the pastime for social and moral reasons.
Operators protested the cancellations, saying that the licenses – some of which were scheduled to run through to 2011 – were a contractual agreement with the government that could not be torn up without valid reasons.
The cancellations follow an action against operator Cambo Six, which was shut down for ambiguous "moral reasons." Cambo Six has been advised to correspond with the prime minister's office in order to review the situation for the firm, which is said to have made a substantial investment in its facilities.
Another company, the Internet-based Sporting Live Group has closed its virtual doors after two years of operations in compliance with the government's assault on online gambling.
A company spokesman said that the closure meant unemployment for the more than 200 Cambodians who worked for the operator.
Sok Sambath, the governor of the Daun Penh district confirmed that his officials were complying with the prime minister's directive in closing down formerly licensed gambling operations, including Cambo Six, Sporting Live Group and others. The governor of Preah Sihanouk province, Sboang Sarath, took similar actions in his region.
The closures have had an immediate impact in slowing payouts to players despite the finance minister's insistence that all player obligations must be honoured.
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