China Casino Blacklist Expands, But Public in Dark Regarding Banned Destinations

Posted on: July 19, 2021, 01:28h. 

Last updated on: July 19, 2021, 03:07h.

The China casino blacklist of gaming resort destinations that the People’s Republic wants its citizens to avoid has expanded. But to where remains unknown.

China casino blacklist gambling
Customs agents in Beijing are seen last year monitoring luggage and goods. The China casino blacklist is swelling to include new prohibited destinations offering casino gambling. (Image: AFP)

Chinese officials in August of 2020 first announced the formation of a so-called blacklist of countries that market gambling to its mainland residents. Gambling is prohibited in China, the two exceptions being the state-sponsored lottery and the Special Administrative Region of Macau.

Last week, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MCT) of the People’s Republic of China announced for a third time the expansion of the country’s blacklist of casino destinations. But for a third time, the ministry failed to disclose publicly where individuals are to avoid.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is to adopt a measure to blacklist a third batch of travel destinations, in response to the recent developments whereby some cities abroad have lured Chinese tourists for gambling activities,” a ministry statement explained.

The MCT is part of the People’s Republic State Council. Among the agency’s responsibilities are promoting China as a cultural and tourism destination, as well as fostering global cooperation in worldwide leisure travel.  

Junking Junkets

China’s blacklist of casino destinations is a safeguard to stop citizens from traveling abroad to gamble. If the MCT, along with law enforcement and immigration officials, believe a group is attempting to travel internationally to gamble at a blacklisted destination, relevant visas will be revoked.

“The ministry will — together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Public Security, the National Immigration Administration, and the Civil Aviation Administration of China — adopt measures to suspend outbound tour groups and the arrangement of tourist visas for trips to these cities and attractions abroad that are on the ‘blacklist,'” the MCT released added. 

In addition to commercial travel, the ministry says the same restrictive measures will apply to business and private jets, as well as water charter services.

Junket groups, officially referred to as gaming promoters, organize trips for high rollers and VIPs from their native countries, China being the largest targeted origin market. Wealthy individuals pay for a trip to a casino resort destination and are flown via private jet and then loaned money to gamble with, often similar to the amount that the patron paid for the trip. 

Junkets typically receive a 1.25 percent commission on gambling revenue losses incurred by the VIP. China has long sought to limit VIP junket groups due to the business model’s alleged facilitation of moving money out from under China’s heavily taxed control. 

Banned Destinations

The China casino blacklist of prohibited destinations hasn’t been divulged. But experts say junkets trying to travel to the Philippines, Vietnam, and Cambodia will almost certainly encounter immigration issues. Australian casinos, currently embattled in controversy there, could also be on the blacklist.

The MCT says the blacklist is to “safeguard the lives and financial safety of Chinese citizens.” Under a new amendment to China’s Criminal Code, anyone found guilty of organizing overseas gambling trips for Chinese citizens faces up to 10 years in prison.

“Our goal is to completely paralyze the soliciting networks by the gambling groups working outside our country that targeted our people, and we will not give up until we achieve our goal,” the Chinese Ministry of Public Security said earlier this year.