Thousands of Vietnamese people are crossing the border to gamble at Cambodian casinos every month and many indebted gamblers have been held hostage or even killed, according to the Ministry of Public Security.
Vu Hoang Kien, a senior official at the Ministry, said police have faced multiple difficulties when investigating these cases.
“The victims' families were often too scared to report honestly, if they decided to report to police at all,” he said.
Local media have reported about casinos built across the border in Cambodia that mainly target gamblers from Vietnam, where gambling is illegal.
Vietnamese police said there are 54 casinos and 36 cockfighting pits along the Cambodian side of the border.
These places have attracted many Vietnamese people who come to either gamble or work as prostitutes or loan sharks, causing harmful consequences to social stability, they said.
Vietnam shares 1,270 kilometers, or 789 miles, of border with Cambodia, with 24 border gates in 10 provinces, not to mention a countless number of small paths used by illegal crossers.
More than 1.6 million Vietnamese people crossed the border illegally to Cambodia last year, and 234,120 people were believed to go there for gambling.
Police are monitoring 5,500 people who enter Cambodia frequently for gambling, loan sharking and brokering.
The number of Vietnamese people gambling at Cambodian casinos has been significantly reduced after "determined actions" by local authorities.
In Tay Ninh, about 100-150 people are crossing the border to gamble every day, compared to around 500 people several years ago.
Kien said operators of gambling services have set up a sophisticated network.
“Bilateral cooperation between relevant Cambodian and Vietnamese agencies have not been strong and effective enough,” he said.
Lieutenant General Do Kim Tuyen of the Ministry of Public Security said there should be more coordination among relevant organizations to prevent gambling.
“Otherwise, there is going to be a boom of Vietnamese people crossing the border to Cambodia for gambling again.”