98 Arrests in Gambling Crackdown5 years ago
The Chinese state media have reported that 98 online gambling-related arrests have been made by authorities since July as part of the continued crackdown on illegal internet activity in the country.
The news, only released on Tuesday to the Xinhua News Agency, is the latest in a string of operations conducted against suspected gamblers since President Xi Jinping came to power two years ago.
Those arrested are suspected of taking part in 12 ‘gambling dens’ in the Southern provinces of Hunan and Guangdong, with an estimated $78billion in bets being handled by the illegal online sites.
According to Xinhua the individuals were arrested on suspicion of "involvement in an online gambling network that has opened more than 500 online casinos, attracting a million members," with investigations still ongoing.
PokerTube has reported on previous operations by the Chinese authorities, including the high-profile case of Guo Meimei, whose ‘private Hold’Em games and soccer betting’ landed the 24-year old celebrity a 5 year jail sentence back in September.
Meimei had brought herself to the attention of the authorities in mainland China after bragging about her love of gambling while in Macau, the former Portuguese colony and popular gambling destination now governed by China.
Gambling is illegal on the Chinese mainland, and Guo declared on Macau television that she ‘loved to gamble’. Her poker parties had been held at ‘an upscale apartment building’ in eastern Beijing, and were raided by police shortly after her admission.
Despite her admissions on television, Guo pleaded not guilty at her short trial, claiming “I should not have participated in gambling” she said, “but I don’t think my actions constituted the crime of running a casino.” The offences were alleged to have taken place between 2010 and 2014.
A national state lottery does exist in China, but many gamblers visit Macau for their poker and casino fix. This has also caused serious problems for the state since Chinese gamblers are severely limited in the amount of money they can take out of the country, which gives rise to the infamous Macau junket operators who ‘front’ gamblers their money and often have to recoup it later back in China.
This in turn often leads to the involvement of the Chinese as outlined in this recent Macau Triad article, with money-laundering and associated crime being among the biggest issues the authorities in China are currently trying to deal with.
Although the recently reported arrests have been made in China itself, they concern mainly online activity which the government has targeted not only for gambling, but also pornography and related serious crimes.
Reports in August stated that police claimed to have arrested about 15,000 people for crimes that "jeopardized Internet security", the crackdown aimed at websites providing "illegal and harmful information."
Many have noted that the extensive state operations against gambling and other illegal online activities have mirrored the Chinese government’s recent attack on ‘online freedom of expression’ – mostly of a political nature.
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