Undercover Reporter Busts Highroller Gambling Den4 years ago
The world of high stakes gambling is a closely guarded secret across the globe. Players with the bankrolls and the balls to risk large amounts of money in games like poker are naturally quite secretive about it. They probably do not want their families to know they play at such high stakes and they definitely do not want the criminal fraternity knowing they carry such large amounts of money around with them regularly as word would soon get around.
Reports have surfaced about an illegal gambling den being busted by an undercover reporter in Beijing, where players paid around HK$5,900 for a seat in the game, around $750 US Dollars. Local newspapers were tipped off when one player in the game, an undercover report, revealed details about it after reportedly losing around HK$350,000 (or $45,000 US) over two sessions.
They revealed lots of fascinating information about the games and the casino that operates them. This included the extent to which the casino goes to protect the secrecy of the games. There are also reports of some questionable tactics being utilized in the games themselves by the operators, with each piece of information revealed being more and more intriguing.
Before being allowed to enter the location, which was changed every few days to avoid detection, the players had to undergo three rounds of strict security checks. Obviously these checks were not as robust as they would have hoped, hence this story getting out, but it shows they were making stringent attempts to get it right and avoid the story leaking.
Once the security checks were completed and the player admitted into the venue, the games began. Players were apparently forced to make a blind wager before the cards were dealt and there were allegations that staff of the casino were placed in the games to force the action and build large pots. This led to pots being contested which could include not only millions of Hong Kong Dollars but even real estate contracts and hard assets. Loan sharks were always on hand to stake players who wanted to win their money back, despite the obvious lunacy of taking out a loan to play in such a game. The casino limited play to just two sessions per day to limit players the opportunity to win any losses back and they regularly moved venue in an attempt to protect the games and avoid detection.
The reports suggest that the casino owners were raking in hundreds of thousands of HK$ per month due to these games. They did not expect the infiltration of their games by a reporter, who revealed information about the games after being threatened outside of his apartment for owing money to the casino after incurring losses. It is worth noting that gambling in China is illegal although there are some regulated state-run lotteries.
Despite the law stating gambling is illegal this has clearly not prevented people attempting to flaunt the law and continue to play. As the Police continue to fight this issue, there have been multiple high-profile gambling busts in China. In 2015, a famous social media star called Geo Meimei shot to fame posting photos of her lavish lifestyle, gaining over 2 million followers. Unfortunately for her, it came to light that she was operating casinos out of private apartments in Beijing. In court she claimed she lacked proper knowledge of the laws in this area but was nevertheless jailed for five years. Only this week, police busted a Mahjong den in Hong Kong, arresting ten people between the ages of 13 and 37, following a tip-off.
This story demonstrates why it is not always wise to restrict gambling and send it into the shadows. Without regulation, players can be exploited, threatened, or worse. Games are not always fair and odd rules can be imposed, such as blind betting, which make the games very bad for the players. Despite the games being adjusted to favour the casino and not the players, the players are so desperate to play that their judgement is compromised.
In their view, it is a case of 'better a poor game than no game at all'. They just want to play, either for the love of the gamble or to win back money they previously lost. There is currently no protection for them as the law does not recognise the gambling itself, so the risk of playing is even higher than it would be if gambling was lawful. Gambling in China is a risky business.
If anyone is caught operating an unlawful gaming establishment there is a hefty fine imposed of up to HK$5 million ($640,000 US) as well as imprisonment for up to seven years. Running an illegal gambling game in China is as risky as it is for players to gamble in these games.
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