In an ongoing attempt to curb the illegal gambling business in China, which thus far has been difficult to eliminate, the Chinese government has declared that there will be harsher punishments for people either engaging in illegal gaming or running illegal gambling sites –whether onsite or online. The government has noted that people who are gambling illegally could be fined, imprisoned and banned from establishing credit in the country.
The Current State of Gaming in China
China has a long history of gambling and gaming, with over 600 years of card games and tile games such as mahjong. However, gambling in China has largely been illegal since the Communist Revolution immediately after World War II.
The Chinese government does operate two lotteries with the justification that these lotteries are necessary for the social good of the country. The government, in order to support some of its programs, uses the China Sports Lottery and the China Welfare Lottery to generate revenue from its citizens. The China Sports Lottery funds programs for athletes , providing food and shelter for those athletes who show Olympic promise. The China Welfare Lottery is a program administered by the government to finance social programs, such as drug rehabilitation, medical aid and social aid for the elderly, along with programs for the disabled.
The Problem with Illegal Gaming in China
Researchers in the field of gambling have estimated that $250 billion is spent by citizens on illegal gaming each year in mainland China. Some of this cash is generated by people in illegal gaming houses who play games like pai gow poker, mahjong and blackjack. However, researchers estimate that over half of the illegal gambling revenue in China is generated through online gaming websites.
China’s Strategies to Combat Illegal Gaming
The Chinese government has taken several steps to eradicate the online gaming problem in the country. First, the Chinese government has engaged in intensive raids on illegal gaming websites and platforms throughout the country, especially during the World Cup, when more Chinese bet illegally online than any other time. Before this year’s World Cup, China removed hundreds of gambling websites from the internet. The government also deleted 50,000 WeChat accounts and 8,000 group chats that were involved in World Cup betting.
In addition, the government banned poker apps in June of 2018, as they consider the applications to be a form of gaming, because players could bet money. Advertisements for poker apps have also been banned in China. The Chinese government has banned online lottery sales since 2015 as a way to insure the lotteries against fraud. However, none of these strategies have paid off so far.
The Chinese government, in yet another effort to tackle the issue, specifically with regard to online gaming, has stated that a crackdown is coming. China is redoubling its law enforcement efforts, saying that all illegal business activities are subject to prosecution. This would include the online gaming sites, as well as any financial institutions that launder gaming money or gaming transactions. The government has stated that if gamers, business owners or financial institutions are charged, they may be fined in the millions of yuan, sentenced to lengthy jail terms, and they will be flagged on the national credit system—which will bar them from obtaining credit. While people in the United States are able to operate with little or no credit, it is extremely difficult in China to work, purchase essentials, and to function in society without credit. In other words, violating China’s anti-gambling laws has severe ramifications for its citizens and foreign nationals.
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