China to crackdown on illegal gambling
The Chinese government is committed to cracking down on land-based and online operators who target mainland Chinese gamblers.
It was on Wednesday 29th March that the state-run news agency Xinhua reported on comments made by Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun.
“[The authorities] must seriously investigate and severely punish those companies and individuals involved in enticing and organising Chinese tourists to gamble in overseas casinos,” Shengkun remarked.
The Minister added that China’s top police officials had been ordered to devise a plan to combat internationally licensed online gambling operators beaming signals into China.
Guo also wants to bring underground banks to book as they help facilitate cross-border betting. Furthermore, the Public Security Minister will take to task those Chinese citizens who dare to invest in international gaming operations.
Xinhua reported that Guo’s comments represent a new phase in China’s Operation Chain Break, an enforcement programme that aims to bring criminal charges against those who participate in and/or facilitate cross-border gambling.
Phase two of the operation hopes to stamp out illegal betting ahead of this autumn’s Communist Party Congress.
Arrests in cross-border operation
Those running illegal gambling rackets in the region have already started to feel the pinch. Earlier this month, authorities in mainland China and Hong Kong collaborated in a cross-border operation to bring down a gambling ring, netting themselves a fair number of arrests already.
China’s official state media announced the 71 people had been arrested on suspicion of involvement with the gambling organisation, which leveraged the legal gambling industry in Hong Kong to offer illegal bets.
Authorities in Guangdong received a tip earlier this year about a website that was allowing Chinese players to wager on horse races hosted by the Hong Kong Jockey Club as well as on international football events.
In a number of coordinated raids, hundreds of offices descended on dozens of locations in both Hong Kong and China. 48 individuals were arrested in Guangdong province and 23 others in Hong Kong.
As part of the coordinated effort, Guangdong authorities claim to have put around RMB 21m (US $3.2m) worth of online wagers on ice, while around $12.8m were frozen by Hong Kong police forces. Significant amounts of cash, computers, betting slips and phone were also confiscated from both jurisdictions.
These cross-border operations are set to increase in both scope and number in the near future. The approaching World Cup will no doubt drive further illegality through the many gambling opportunities it present. Experts say that this year’s World Cup will be of particular interest to potential Chinese punters because it is being held in Russia, which means matches will take place during prime time TV hours for viewers in China.