Police in mainland China’s Nantong city in Jiangsu province say they have cracked that locality’s “biggest” organised gambling ring, said to have involved over CNY1.3 billion (US$183.4 million) in capital for gambling, some of it used in Macau high-stakes play. The ringleader, a man with business ties to Macau, drew a 16-year prison sentence.
On Thursday Nantong’s Public Security Bureau said 18 people – led by a man they identified only by the surname, “Shi” – had been active for over a decade in running what the bureau termed illegal online gaming businesses within mainland China, and also in bringing mainland Chinese patrons to gamble in Macau. The bureau had a media briefing on the case the same day, according to several mainland Chinese media outlets.
The group’s activities came to the attention of the authorities in April 2018, concerning online gaming and “organising people to gamble abroad”. On the Chinese mainland, the operating or promotion of casino gambling in online or bricks and mortar form is illegal, as is the marketing of such gambling outside the mainland’s borders, including any play in Macau.
The security bureau said Mr Shi and accomplices had since 2007 been arranging for mainland China-based business people to gamble in Macau, as well as providing what it termed “gambling accounts” for people to play online within mainland China.
For those patrons playing in Macau, the group had been taking a commission from rolling chip volume, and profit sharing via a “multiplier” system. The latter practice is forbidden in Macau due to its association with dodging Macau’s gaming tax, but the Macau government has admitted is hard to detect.
The Nantong security bureau also identified “Mr Shi” as a “chairman” of a Macau-based investment company. Accomplices in the gambling activity held several “accounts” at Macau casinos, the bureau stated.
The bureau accused Mr Shi and his accomplices of using violent means – including unlawful detention and harassment of gaming patrons’ relatives and staff in mainland China – in order to chase gaming debts from players struggling to pay up.
An investigation on the group had been concluded in 2018 after seven months of “difficult” work, including collecting evidence in Jiangsu, Guangdong, Hebei, Shandong and Macau.
Mr Shi and his alleged accomplices were prosecuted in February, 2019, with matters eventually coming before Nantong Intermediate People’s Court “early this year”, the bureau stated.
According to the judgment, Mr Shi got a 16-year jail term for combined counts: gambling crime, running illicit casino business, and unlawful detention. He was also fined CNY123 million, the bureau said in its press statement.
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Aggregate number of visitor arrivals to Macau in October