Five Arrested Over ‘Rain Betting’ as Radios, Cars Confiscated

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Officials from Battambang Provincial Department of Public Works and Transport inspect a damaged bridge after severe flooding from October 10 to 11, 2020, in this photograph posted to the department’s Facebook page.

A “rain betting” game that involves driving around with walkie-talkies has landed five men in police custody in Battambang city.

“We don’t know the ones who play it,” said O’Char deputy commune chief Moeun Vibol. “I don’t know how the game works. We just see them watching the sky and talking through walkie-talkies. I’ve seen them driving around with their walkie-talkies. … Sometimes we confuse them with law enforcement because they use radios.”

Officials had raised the issue during meetings, but so far local authorities had little insight into how to curb the game, he said. Often people with the walkie-talkies are seen riding three people per motorbike through villages, Vibol said.

Lim Puthyla, a provincial deputy police chief, said five men thought to be playing the game were arrested in two locations on Sunday. Seven mobile phones, five radios and three cars were also confiscated, Puthyla said.

But gambling was only a minor crime and the suspects could only be jailed for a week, Puthyla said. The cases had been sent to the provincial court, and were in the hands of the prosecutor, he said.

“We often crack down on them. There have been many cases” this year, he said.

Rain betting typically involves guessing the time — and, at times, location — of rainfall during the monsoon season.

Vibol, the commune official, said villagers outside the city were complaining about all the betting in the city — that the numerous people praying for it there kept the rain in urban areas and away from their fields.

But it was hard to catch bettors in the act, he said. “It’s difficult. It’s not like playing cards or dice, where you [can catch them] holding the cards or dice.” He said he feared gambling’s impact on robberies and domestic violence in the city.

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