Macau’s Judiciary Police have arrested 15 local residents for alleged links to an illicit online gambling business said to have been coordinated via Macau from computer servers overseas. The organisation was believed to have been active since 2017, and allegedly generated CNY18.5 billion (US$2.74 billion) in wagers, a police spokesperson said on Thursday in commentary about Wednesday’s arrests.
They were part of a joint operation with police in the Chinese mainland’s Guangdong province. The latter force had been assisting since 2021 with a cross-border investigation, as the suspected gang had members of on both sides of the boundary, said Macau Judiciary Police spokesman Chan Wun Man, in a Thursday briefing.
A total of 27 individuals had been arrested in several mainland provinces for their alleged involvement, the Macau police spokesman noted.
The “operational mode” of the organisation was that “the ringleader established many ‘shareholder’ accounts, and these shareholders looked for agents that worked for them,” stated Mr Chan.
“These agents then recruited players for the Internet-based gambling activities,” had added, in comments aired by the Chinese-language radio service of public broadcaster TDM.
Mr Chan also stated: “This organisation has run several types of Internet-based gambling games, including some self-developed ones, such as online baccarat, [and] a ‘fishing’ game, as well as illicit football betting.”
The computer servers of the Internet-based gambling activities allegedly run by the group, were hosted overseas, Mr Chan also mentioned.
Wagers for the online gaming activities – settled via routes including cryptocurrency transactions – were transferred from several bank accounts in mainland China, to Macau. The Macau police believed the criminal organisation had profited to the tune of “at least CNY25 million” from the online gambling activities.
The group had an “operational base” in a luxury flat in Macau’s ZAPE district, on the city’s peninsula, in addition to several other bases spread across mainland China and overseas, the Macau police spokesman stated. He did not directly identify the Macau location.
The arrested 15 Macau residents – ranging in age from 29 to 66 – were sent to the city’s Public Prosecutions Office for further interrogation. They face allegations of involvement in organised crime, as well as the crimes of running illicit gambling, and of money laundering, Mr Chan told the local media.
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