Authorities in China have dismantled a major illegal online gambling ring when they arrested more than 100 suspects in two different coordinated operations.
On April 26, Xinhua, the state-run media outlet, reported that officers in the heavily populated southern province of Guangdong had arrested more than 140 suspects, froze bank accounts holding RMB85m (U.S. $13.4 million) in funds and seized possessions worth an additional RMB130m in their aim to stop an illicit online casino ring.
Police officers in the town of Jiangmen ostensibly got their initial tip pertaining to the online gambling ring in October 2017. Their subsequent investigation specified that the ring operated six online casino websites and had police officers in 12 different cities in Guangdong Province, as well as three cities in the neighboring Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.
Police set up their first raids on March 12, which helped them capture more than 110 suspects. A subsequent raid on April 2 resulted in the arrest of an additional 30 suspects. China is supposed to ramp up its targeting of online gambling sites, especially online sports books as the 2018 FIFA World Cup gets set to kick off in June.
China’s antigambling administration is also working diligently against land-based operators.
This past week, Guangdong police raided and busted up an illicit casino working out of a mountainside tent near Shenzhen. This occurred after receiving a tip just last week. Officers brought into custody 13 of the den’s coordinators, as well as about 45 gamblers. Officials also seized RMB140k in cash.
Meanwhile, police were also dispatched to the city of Baoshan in Yunnan province this month to raid a villa that housed an illicit baccarat casino.
The Baoshan casino handled more than RMB5m in bets in the previous 14 days. Officials arrested more than 100 suspects during their April 4 bust, most of whom were held for a 15-day administrative detention. Illicit gambling charges are anticipated to be filed against the leaders of the ring.
The three-story villa had been leased last month by an individual named Liu, who proclaimed he was using it solely for business purposes. Local neighbors noticed that quite a few people were entering and leaving the building at all hours of the night but no lights from the inside were visible from the street.
Lookouts were positioned just outside the entrance and exit, and the locale had also been furnished with several surveillance cameras.
Similar raids are expected to increase drastically in the next several months as China prepares for the betting bonanza known as the FIFA World Cup. This year’s betting volumes are anticipated to be drastically greater than recent World Cups, considering that the 2018 event is occurring just across the border in Russia. This means that the games will occur during primetime viewing hours for Chinese betters.
To further its stance on cracking down on online gambling and betting, Xinhua also quoted Ministry of Public Security Deputy Minister Huang Ming, who told participants at a national video event that the country faced a new battle in its constant war against illicit gambling activity.
This month, Macau’s Institute for Tourism Studies published a study advising the country’s government to approve mainland casinos in an effort to tackle the “enormous demand for gambling” by mainland betters and to eliminate the “mass exodus of capital” that presently goes to casinos in other Asia-Pacific countries.
If this outflow of capital resumes, the study’s writers caution that this “loss of national wealth … will become a real threat to the national well-being.”
Instead of permitting casinos to just pop up anywhere in the country, the study’s organizers suggest a more aimed tactic, such as pilot projects in “certain special zones.”
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