China’s Ministry of Public Security stated on Thursday the authorities had identified in the first nine months of this year, the equivalent of nearly US$150 billion due to exit the country for “cross-border” gambling activities. The ministry didn’t specify how much of that money – if any – had actually been prevented from exiting.
In August, China announced it now had a ‘blacklist’ system for overseas jurisdictions that try to attract its citizens to go gambling. The mainland authorities also say they have been using ‘big data’ to stop those seeking to go abroad for gambling, from leaving the country.
This month, reports said the nation was planning to amend its criminal law to create a specific offence of “organising and soliciting” overseas wagering.
On Thursday the ministry described the progress on countermeasures so far this year as “significant”.
Up to September 30, China had identified “over CNY1 trillion” – nearly US$150 billion – in what it termed illicit funds related to cross-border gambling. A total of 8,800 cases had been investigated, and over 60,000 suspects arrested.
The ministry also said that over 1,400 operations allegedly involving “illicit payment platforms and underground banks” to aid cross-border gambling, had been dismantled.
It further stated that 590 mainland China passport holders allegedly involved in gaming-related crimes have been caught abroad with the help of police forces from other countries. The ministry did not name the countries, or give details of the alleged offences.
The steps would be a “strong deterrent” for any “international gaming companies” thinking about attracting mainlanders to gamble overseas, the statement said.
Anti-gambling operations within China have featured prominently in mainland media news coverage in recent months. Thursday reports mentioned various crackdowns in the cities of Guangzhou, Huizhou, Dongguan and Zhanjiang in Guangdong, the mainland province next door to Macau.
Internet-based illegal lottery games and other forms of gambling games – targeted at players within the mainland – have been the main problem identified regarding Guangdong, with servers of the gambling sites allegedly being hosted outside China, mainland media reported.
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George Choi and Ryan Cheung
Analysts at Citigroup