Cambodia is currently tightening their crackdown on gambling in their country. One of their thrusts is towards shutting down online gambling sites that target Cambodian citizens to participate in drug dealing. Gaming is big in Cambodia. In fact, many of the locals bet in almost everything that they can put their money in. One of them is boat racing.
Bon Om Touk – Cambodia’s Water Festival
Bon Om Touk or Water Festival is among the most important celebrations of Cambodian culture. The ceremony, held annually, takes place in the capital city of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap’s Angkor Wat to signal the end of the green season and the beginning of the flow reversal of the Tonle Sap River.
Cambodia’s water festival should not be confused with the Songkran Water Festival of Thailand. The Bon Om Touk happens during the full moon of the Buddhist month of Kadeuk and usually occurs in late October until early November. The event includes evening boat parades, carnival ride, traditional music and dance performance, and several days of boat racing.
Preparation for the water festival starts several months before. Locals prepare their boats and decorate them with colourful designs. The celebration lasts for three days and brings local people from different provinces and tourists from all over the world. Aside from revellers, the festival also attracts a huge number of gamblers.
Competitive Racing and Betting During the Water Festival
The annual boat race is the most-watched event during the festival. Those familiar with betting in competitive boat racing will quickly notice about ten temporary shelters lined up next to each other inside the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port (PPAP). These shelters will have walls posted with race fixture. It will be easy to spot them with their television sets with volumes up and cash exchanging hands as fast as the paddles of boatmen.
Many of those who place wagers do not see their activities as a form of gambling. For them, it is something that they do to make the race more appealing in addition to showing support for the racers and boats. Winning bets is just icing on the cake. However, if you stay for long at these shelters, you will see huge amounts of cash in bets. Bets can range from $10 to $25, and a punter can take home as much as $150 in a single race. A large number of those who bet rarely look at the quality of the boats they are betting on – for the locals at least. Most of them bet on the boats competing for their village.
Betting on competitive boat racing is not only popular among regular citizens. Prime Minister Hun Sen is an avid punter on boat racing during the water festival. He stated his willingness to bet on his boat to beat his Deputy Prime Minister Sok An in a head-to-head race.
How to Bet on Boat Racing in Cambodia
Betting on boat racing in Cambodia during festivals is easy. Most of the operators come out of their underground to participate during the events. However, those who want to bet on boat racing in Cambodia throughout the whole year and not only during the water festival may do so in online sports betting sites.
When they go online, punters would have access to tons of sites that allows them to bet on different boating events such as rowing, sailing, and even powerboat races. Many of those who gamble online follow different wagering methods. Some choose to bet on the colours, and others bet on team names. However, there are those punters who would really do their research and put their money on the team with the most definite chance at winning.
Most online sports betting sites offer odds and previous history of boat racers. Aside from these bits of information, it would also be helpful to check the weather conditions for the race. For dragon boat racing, you must consider the overall health of the paddlers. For sailboat racing, you have to check the racer’s experience with windy conditions and choppy waters.
To become a successful bettor of boat races, you always have to consider the intrinsic value of your bet. This will require you to put your money on betting lines with the best possible amount of bet. Always shop for favourable odds. Look for online sites that offer fair lines that are congruent and consistent with most oddsmakers across the online sports betting industry.
Since the Cambodian government is tightening its crackdown on online betting sites, there is the worry of depositing money in these online bookies. However, do note that most of the betting sites accepting players from Cambodia have hosting from offshore jurisdictions. In essence, these sites are not affected by the stringent measures currently in place by the Cambodian government.
For peace of mind, newbie bettors must also research and read reviews about the top online sites accepting Cambodian players. This way, they can be sure about the legality and credibility of the online site where they would like to deposit their money and bet on boat races. By reading online reviews, you can easily spot which sites are blacklisted because of unresolved issues that may point out to them as scam sites.
The Ban on Online Gambling Sites in Cambodia
Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen announced in a directive that the kingdom will no longer issue online gambling licenses. License holders can still operate, but they will no longer grant renewals if the permit expires. Also, the prime minister ordered law enforcement agents to speed up investigations. Local authorities must also suppress all illegal online gambling currently in operation to restore public order and social security.
The directive came after law enforcement agents caught foreign criminals to run an illegal online gambling business to run telecom scams. The telecom scams extort money from their victims in and outside the country.
To ensure that your betting activity will not be affected by the directive, make sure to bet only using foreign sites with international licenses. As much as possible, do not bet while outside your home. Never ever boast to anyone about your gambling activities, no matter how proud you may be of your winnings.