China is warning foreign casinos that marketing gambling to its people will result in prosecution, and if a proposed amendment to its criminal law is passed, a potential lengthy prison sentence.
Inside Asian Gaming broke the news that an amendment to the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China has been introduced to the National People’s Congress (NPC). The statute would greatly increase penalties involving illegal gambling advertising. If passed, those found guilty of marketing gambling services in the mainland would be subject to a prison term of between five and 10 years.
Whoever operates or manages casinos, or is designated by casinos outside the country, and organizes or solicits Chinese residents to participate in overseas gambling, where the amount involved is large with a serious nature, shall be punished according to provisions,” the draft reads.
A fine and prison sentence of not more than five years is specified for minor infractions of the gambling amendment. For more serious violators, “The person shall be sentenced to more than five years, but not more than 10 years, of fixed-term imprisonment.”
The amendment to Chinese law regarding cross-border gambling has already been reviewed by the NPC Standing Committee. IAG says the amendment will likely pass during the NPC’s two sessions in March.
China President Xi Jinping is trying to limit and reduce the tens of billions of dollars that have been flowing out from underneath his Communist Party’s control over the past decade.
The Ministry of Public Security says through nine months in 2020, it estimates that approximately CNY1 trillion ($150 billion) has been moved out of China through gambling channels. China’s principal police and security agency says it has arrested more than 60,000 suspects allegedly involved in such operations. The ministry has over 8,800 active cases regarding cross-border gambling.
In combating cross-border gambling crimes, the Ministry of Public Security has commanded local public security agencies to carry out full-chain attacks strictly and promptly in accordance with the law, and has achieved fruitful results,” a ministry statement declared.
The ministry says nothing about Macau, the world’s richest casino hub that is one of two Special Administrative Regions (SAR) in China. The law enforcement crackdown of cross-border gambling is instead focused on casinos in other parts of Asia and Oceania.
Chinese people are barred from gambling in the mainland, the state-run lottery the exception. But many still do online, and the Philippines is one of the largest offenders, China says, of targeting its people on the internet.
Crown Resorts, the Australian casino giant, remains under investigation in New South Wales regarding its suitability to conduct business there due to allegations that it has failed to protect against money laundering in the past.
The company, founded by billionaire James Packer, saw 19 of its staff members detained in China on “gambling crimes” back in 2016. Sixteen of the employees served prison sentences of at least nine months, including Jason O’Connor, then the executive vice president of Crown’s VIP international division.
O’Connor was released 10 months after pleading guilty to promoting gambling in China. If the amendment proposed was intact, he could have been on the hook for a much longer time behind bars.