Authorities in mainland China are poised to increase enforcement against cross-border gambling activities targeting Chinese nationals. So said on Thursday the Chinese embassy in the Philippines in a statement.
“The Chinese government attaches great importance to the crackdown on cross-border gambling activities,” said the document, made available in the embassy’s official website.
Macau is the only place in China where casino gambling is legal. The country does not allow online gambling.
The Chinese embassy added: “The Ministry of Public Security of China has taken many actions and will carry out more special operations aimed at preventing and combating cross-border gambling. China will focus on investigating and cracking some major cases, including those of organising gambling overseas and opening online gaming, and will destroy networks of criminal organisations involved in recruiting gamblers from China by overseas casinos and using the Internet to open casinos in China.”
The statement said that mainland authorities would also crack down on “underground banks” and online payment platforms that provide a financial settlement for cross-border gambling and other crimes. Authorities would additionally “wipe out domestic network operators and companies that provide technical support for such crimes.”
The statement of the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines said that “the fact that the Philippine casinos and POGOs [Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators] and other forms of gambling entities are targeting Chinese customers has severely affected” China’s interests.
“[A] huge amount of Chinese funds has illegally flown out of China and illegally into the Philippines, involving crimes such as cross-border money laundering through underground banking, which undermines China’s financial supervision and financial security,” the Chinese embassy’s statement said.
It added: “The fact that a large number of Chinese citizens are lured into illegal gambling has resulted in an increase of crimes and social problems in China. In particular, some gambling crimes and telecom frauds are closely connected, which has caused huge losses to the victims and their families,” the embassy stated.
In its statement, the Chinese embassy urged for support from the Philippine authorities to crack down on gambling-related crimes, including money laundering and illegal employment of Chinese citizens.
The embassy’s Thursday statement followed remarks made by an official from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (Pagcor) to local media, saying Chinese nationals employed by POGOs would be transferred to “self-contained” communities within the Philippines.
The move, according to Pagcor vice president for offshore gaming Jose Tria, was to limit interaction between locals and foreign workers, and a means to make it easier for the local government to monitor the operations of POGOs. A number of these operations include online casinos that cater to overseas punters.
In reaction to Mr Tria’s remarks, the Chinese embassy said in its Thursday statement: “The Chinese embassy expresses its grave concern over such potential move by Pagcor, which may infringe on the basic legal rights of the Chinese citizens concerned, and strongly urges the Philippine government to effectively protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens in the Philippines.”
The plan proposed by Pagcor – the country’s gaming regulator – has also raised eyebrows among politicians in the Philippines, with some casting doubt on the legality of the proposal.
POGOs are said to be expanding aggressively in the Philippines. Authorities in the country are trying to reign in on the expansion and trying to regulate better these operators, including to account for foreign workers in the industry.
Bloomberg reported in July that the Philippine government estimated that 138,000 people, mostly Chinese nationals, are engaged in the POGO industry, with some of them working illegally in the country. Chinese workers are needed to support POGO operations in the Philippines because the sector reportedly deals mainly with Chinese gamblers and so requires proficiency in Mandarin.
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Aggregate number of visitor arrivals to Macau in October