Authorities in mainland China have dismantled what a media report referred to as a “cross-border gambling ring”, the activities of which allegedly extended to Laos and Myanmar.
The ring is accused of breaking Chinese law by bringing more than 400 Chinese people across the country’s borders with, respectively, Laos and Myanmar, Reuters news agency reported on Saturday, quoting a news story by Chinese official news agency Xinhua.
Laos and Myanmar have a number of casinos located on their respective borders with mainland China. Those facilities are said by industry commentators mostly to target Chinese customers.
The Reuters report stated that the gamblers are suspected of having wagered more than RMB500 billion (US$72.56 billion).
Police in Jincheng city in Shanxi province are said to have broken up the cross-border operation, detaining a total of 94 people. The Reuters account said Chinese authorities first began gathering evidence on the suspected criminal syndicate following a 2013 murder case. It related to alleged unpaid gaming debts, suspected to be connected to the operations of the alleged gang.
A total of eight gamblers that were allegedly being detained by the ring for unpaid gambling debts were rescued during a police operation, added the media report, citing police officials as the source of the information.
The Reuters report did not state when the police operations took place.
The action on the alleged cross-border gambling ring comes at a time other media reports indicate mainland China authorities have been taking action against casino operators – ones licensed in neighbouring countries – that have offices in mainland cities that are said to seek to attract and recruit Chinese high rollers to gamble outside the borders of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Macau, where casino gambling is legal, is a Special Administrative Region of the PRC.
In August 2015, China News Service reported that mainland China’s Ministry of Public Security had started an operation called “Chain Break”, said to be aimed at disrupting foreign casinos’ access to money flows from China and those casinos’ links to individuals that scout for gamblers from China.
Last month, several individuals linked to Australia’s Crown Resorts Ltd were reportedly detained in mainland China, in a case said to be in connection with investigations into alleged illegal gaming-related marketing activities on the mainland.
Several investment analysts stated in notes commenting on the case that the detentions were connected to marketing activities – for the recruitment by Crown Resorts in mainland China – of high-value players. The company has not commented on the work of the people detained.
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"The [Macau] government has a lead in this subject in regards to what should be done after the [gaming] concessions expire. We will be first listening to what the government will say”
Ambrose So Shu Fai
Vice-chairman and chief executive at Macau casino operator SJM Holdings