Capital: Phnom Penh
Currency: Riel (KHR)
There is an old Khmer proverb in Cambodia that goes, “lbaeng taeng vineah (Khmer: ល្បែងតែងវិនាស)”. This roughly translates to “gambling destroys Life” and as such, gambling is illegal for the locals.
Despite this gambling is widely spread across the country with establishments in no less than 13 different cities in Cambodia. As Thailand and Vietnam have very restrictive gambling laws, the border casinos in Cambodia enjoy a lot of popularity. For this region and the Cambodian gambling industry as a whole, it is more about the visiting gamblers than the locals.
The driving force behind the Cambodian border gambling industry is China. This influence has turned Sihanoukville into a major gambling center for Chinese visitors. However, the most influential casino in Cambodia is Nagaworld in Phnom Penh.
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Live Poker Legislation in Cambodia
Gambling has been illegal since the reign of the Khmer Rouge. But in the 1990s, the government decided to start building casinos near the border to attract foreigners (passport required, allowing Cambodians with dual citizenship to legally gamble). Now, especially the Thais and the Vietnamese cross over and play while locals have been prohibited from enjoying the same leisure since 1996. However, this law is said to be weakly enforced, and local players are said to be able to gamble with little interference from the government.
Live Poker Venues in Cambodia
Poker only represents a very small part of the gambling industry and is often neglected by casino operators. However, it has been continuously growing, though more sporadically, both in legal settings and in the underground.
There are hundreds of casinos in Cambodia, but only a fraction of them is offering poker. Poipet or Bavet have seen poker games hosted, but never consistently. The two cities that offer poker on a year-round basis are Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh. For Sihanoukville, we can’t recommend a specific casino as the gambling landscape here is constantly changing. One thing is sure, the gambling industry here is fuelled by Chinese players and operators. This can sound juicy, but unfortunately, the rake is very high.
In the capital of Phnom Penh, the only legal and official venue is Nagaworld. Because of its monopoly and despite poker only being a small part of the gambling offering, the game has been steadily gaining ground on the casino floors. Cash games are available at any time of the year, starting from $1/$3 blinds.
NagaWorld, located at the heart of Phnom Penh, is the undisputed king of casinos in Cambodia. Having a monopoly of over a 200 km radius of the capital, NagaWorld is the main casino to go to in South Indochina to play poker.
Very recently Nagaworld has also started hosting the first international poker events in the capital city with the World Poker Tour in November 2019. Other international poker events have been hosted in different Cambodian locations in the past, such as the Asian Poker Tour with stops in Sihanoukville and Poipet.
In addition to all this, there is a very lively underground poker scene from bars over established clubs up to private high stakes games.
In any case, all games are played in USD which is the dominating currency for any transactions in the country. If you should run well in Cambodian games, make sure to declare anything over $10,000 at customs when leaving the country.
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Online Poker Legislation in Cambodia
Under the 1996 Law on Suppression of Gambling, online gambling is declared illegal. There are no online casino vendors legally licensed to operate from within Cambodia. The country is one of the few places in the world where people have been arrested for gambling online. We do not recommend you play at an online casino in Cambodia unless you are a foreign national.
Despite this, many of the world’s leading online casinos continue to offer their services to Cambodian players. This is because the online casinos are located and licensed offshore, so technically they run in accordance with the local laws, and the Justice Department tends to focus on individuals rather than overseas organizations.
However, it is highly unlikely you will find an online casino site which accepts payments using the Cambodian riel (KHR).
WiFi connections aren’t always reliable, but Cambodia has pretty good internet when it comes to 3G/4G.
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