Authorities in Xieng Khuang province are determined to take a strong stand against gambling, which has been spreading in the provincial capital Phonsavanh for several years.
This illegal activity is seen as tarnishing the image of the province, which has long been associated with its valiant efforts on the battlefield to repel enemy forces. Acting provincial Governor Mr Bountonh Chanthaphone told media about the authorities’ measures on the sidelines of the government’s open meeting that took place recently in neighbouring Huaphan province.
The Xieng Khuang Administration Office on March 19 issued notices concerning the cessation of gambling to the Governor of Paek district, the departments of Public Security, Information, Culture and Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Finance, and Taxation.
The office also issued a notice to the Phoukham Garden Enterprise and the Na Na Pub prohibiting all forms of gambling at the Phoukham Garden, Hotel and Resort.
The administration also ordered the closure of the Na Na Pub, which is located at the Phoukham Garden Enterprise. The authorities’ decision has been applauded by members of the public, while some groups have critisised the move.
Mr Bountonh said “We have to crack down on these various forms of gambling, which are spoiling the province’s image. The losses from such activities outweigh the gains. He said the authorities did not blame business operators for what had happened, saying they did not intend to allow gambling. However, it had developed due to the negligence of authorities who had not issued a warning at the beginning.
“It began with small groups playing gambling games on electronic machines and playing cards. Slowly but surely various forms of gambling spread day by day until people started doing it online as well,” he added.
He referred to the decision made by the province’s Party Standing Committee, which he said described the undesirable consequences of gambling such as family quarrels, absence from school, theft and robbery.
Mr Bountonh, who is Acting Secretary of the province’s Party Committee and President of the People’s Council, said members of the public had been voicing concern to the National Assembly about the situation for about four years.
Xieng Khuang province is preparing to host this year’s National Games and is also expecting more visitors to the Plain of Jars during Visit Laos Year 2018.
Mr Bountonh said it was important to give visitors a favourable impression of the province so it was essential that the scourge of gambling be expunged.
With regard to other matters, the authorities were supporting the development of the old runway as a shopping centre, market, and sports ground, which he said would all help to create more jobs.
Also on March 19, the province’s Administration Office issued a notice to lower authorities ordering the closure of the night market at Nam Ngam Public Park, which opened last October.
Mr Bountonh said the administration supported people’s business activities but felt that the site was inappropriate because it was located at the town’s main junction where traffic volume was heaviest.
A more convenient place for the market would be allocated, he added.