China Police Arrest 36 Suspects Involved with 810,000-Member Gambling Operation

Posted on: August 30, 2019, 06:05h. 

Last updated on: August 31, 2019, 12:05h.

Some 36 suspects have been apprehended in China’s Zhejiang Province in connection with a massive online gambling ring. The bust involved approximately $75.8 million and about 810,000 members, officials announced on Thursday.

China Public Security Minister Zhao Kezhi has promised to crack down on online gambling. Chinese police recently arrested 36 gambling suspects. (Image: Visual China)

The operation was set up by a gang, police said. It grew from when it was started last September, so that it needed to hire 150,000 agents, police added.

The inquiry originated last December, when Jiaxing police were told that a local resident was allegedly promoting an online gambling platform on WeChat. Police arrested the suspect in January.

In May, local police conducted raids on the gang’s operations. The arrests took place in Chongqing Municipality, Shenzhen, and Chengdu.

This week, China’s Xinhua News Agency said police were continuing to investigate the operation.

Arrests Just Drop of Water in an Ocean

When asked for comments on the latest gambling arrests, Sophal Ear, an associate professor of diplomacy and world affairs at California’s Occidental College, told, “36 suspects — when 810,000 people are involved, of whom 150,000 are agents — seems like a drop in an ocean.

Online gambling is the natural outgrowth of making gambling illegal, save for two national lotteries that aren’t considered gambling,” Ear added. “Who is to say the police raid was not targeting an operation that failed to pay them off?”

Ear further asked: “How many of the 810,000 are officials? Probably more than a few. I mean, who has money to gamble? It isn’t going to be poor people.”

The arrests are likely to continue, Ear confirmed. “As the Chinese say: Kill the chicken, scare the monkey,” Ear added.

“These arrests are supposed to have a demonstration effect — frighten people, but if only 36 get caught out of hundreds of thousands, the odds to me look pretty good (0.0044444444444 percent of 810,000 or 0.024 percent of 150,000),” Ear explained.

If authorities arrested everyone, which would total hundreds of thousands of people, “they wouldn’t have enough prisons for everyone. So, they target the ring leaders,” Ear explained.

Also, Ear confirmed criminals involved with the gambling ring could be connected to other illegal activity. “Whenever you criminalize something, there’s going to be a higher chance that the house is engaged in other work that is also illegal,” Ear said.

Examples could include racketeering, and money laundering. Australian and Cambodian casinos could be laundering the money, Ear claimed.

“The same can be said of officials who are bribed to allow this to happen under their watch. They, too, need to launder their money,” Ear alleged.

China Curbs Online Gambling

Last month, China Public Security Minister Zhao Kezhi promised to stop online gambling taking place across national borders. Several gambling rings have since closed.

Also, Chinese officials recently asked Philippines to ban online gambling. Much of it is apparently targeting those from China.

The Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) has instead stopped accepting new license applications for Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations (POGO).

PAGCOR head of offshore gaming, Victor Padilla, claimed none of the Philippines’ licensed POGOs are Chinese-owned companies, nor do they target gamblers within China.

China urged the Philippine government to take “concrete and effective measures” against operators accepting play from China. Also, Chinese officials have “grave concerns” that its citizens are being forced into slave-like labor conditions when they take jobs in Philippines off-shore gaming networks.

Many Chinese people are hired by POGO call centers. They work as service reps, speaking with foreign customers in their native Mandarin dialect.