Internet cafes across Vientiane Capital will be monitored by a special committee after officials announced that some internet cafes were illegally selling drugs and facilitating online gambling.
According to a report submitted during the Vientiane People’s Council Meeting, many internet cafes in the capital have been found to be havens for the sale and use of illicit drugs, as well as online gambling.
According to the Vientiane Times, the Vientiane Capital Department of Post and Telecommunications will appoint a special committee that will monitor internet cafes, with inspections to be ramped up and steep fines issued, or business licenses revoked.
The report said that the city has a total of 397 internet cafes, of which 159 are currently being investigated by district post and telecommunications officials
The department will now limit the number of cafes in the city by suspending permission to open such businesses, or transferring licenses to new owners. Expired licenses will no longer be extended, and internet cafes will not be allowed to move to new premises.
Internet cafe owners have been found facilitating online gambling services, illegal in Laos. Others were found to knowingly provide use of their premises for the sale of amphetamines and other illicit substances.
Laws governing the operations of internet cafes are vague, making it difficult for authorities to properly regulate them, resulting in many venues providing illegal services.
While lockdown measures enacted to prevent the spread of Covid-19 were eased in early July, internet cafes, as well as nightclubs and karaoke bars, are to remain closed.