Police in Huai’an city in the mainland Chinese province of Jiangsu have disrupted what Xinhua News Agency reported as a “family-run” online gambling ring that handled as much as CNY500 million (US$73 million) in relation to casino-style games, some streamed live, and delivered via five websites.
The sites used names including “Grand Lisboa” and “Venetian” rendered in Chinese, according to the official Chinese outlet. Those particular names are protected brands respectively of legitimate Macau casino operators SJM Holdings Ltd and Sands China Ltd.
Apart from the unauthorised use of Macau names, there was no indication in the report that the ring had any other connection to Macau. Last year and earlier this year, there were cases of alleged illegal gambling syndicates making use of Chinese social media platform WeChat to bet on games actually taking place in either Macau or Philippines casinos.
A total of 63 suspects was arrested over the Jiangsu case: 15 were said to have surrendered themselves to mainland officials after returning to China from either neighbouring Laos, Cambodia or the Philippines.
The Xinhua report quoted police sources as stating three alleged ringleaders had leased a house in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, and had used it to operate gambling websites. Other members of the alleged criminal group that were based in China were believed to be responsible for promoting the websites, expanding the network of players and handling transfer of wagers.
The report also noted that dozens of game types – including live-streamed versions – were available on the gambling websites, adding that the platforms were interactive, allowing players to place or increase bets at the stroke of a keyboard or at the push of a handset screen.
The initial investigation was launched after the police were given a tip-off about the gaming websites in March last year, according to Xinhua.
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"I am not going to speculate on what the [casino licence refreshment] tender requirements would be. I have full confidence and faith in the Macau government to treat everyone fairly"
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China