China Using Big Data to Prevent Citizens From Gambling Internationally

Posted on: September 3, 2020, 03:28h. 

Last updated on: September 4, 2020, 05:36h.

Officials in China say they’re using big data to crack down on citizens exiting the People’s Republic to gamble.

China big data casino gambling
China is blocking citizens from leaving the country who are suspected to be heading out to gamble. (Image: Nicolas Asfouri/Getty)

All forms of gambling in the People’s Republic of China are outlawed, with the state-run national lottery the lone exception. Commercial casinos can also be found in the Special Administrative Region (SAR) of Macau.

Those who try to evade the law and gamble at foreign casinos, Beijing Immigration Inspection Deputy Director Ji Lixia says, are being denied visas. She explained this week at a briefing that China is using big data to comb through massive amounts of digital information to determine the odds of whether someone is trying to visit another country with the primary intent to gamble.

Those who are deemed intentionally try to break the law by gambling in another country are denied exit from China, and additionally sanctioned. The immigration controls are designed to stop people involved in gambling or gambling-related businesses from traveling outside the mainland.

Big Data

Most people know that their digital use of computers, cell phones, and numerous other smart devices leave a long digital footprint. And systems today are capable of analyzing that data to learn a great deal about each of our habits and preferences.

“Analysis of big data allows analysts, researchers, and business users to make better and faster decisions using data that was previously inaccessible or unusable,” explains IBM. “Businesses can use advanced analytics techniques, such as text analytics, machine learning, predictive analytics, data mining, statistics, and natural language processing to gain new insights from previously untapped data sources independently or together with existing enterprise data.”

Big data can also be used in nefarious ways. China is developing a “social credit” score for each of its citizens, a rating based on how they behave determined by mass surveillance. China will have more than 600 million surveillance cameras installed by next year. The government is constantly watching.

In June, the Chinese Ministry of Security launched an online website where people can report cross-border gambling incidences.

Reporting on crimes is welcomed,” the website reads. The site says it’s interested in tips regarding Chinese citizens gambling overseas or online, or who work for foreign casinos or are engaged in relevant businesses.

“Other crimes related to cross-border gambling, including gang crimes, frauds, money laundering, kidnapping, unlawful detainment, human abduction, and trafficking, and illegal entrance into a foreign country [are welcomed],” the reporting platform adds.

Blacklisted Countries

China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism confirmed last month a blacklist of foreign casinos that are known to target its mainlanders. No countries were officially named, but China President Xi Jinping has accused casinos in the Philippines of marketing gambling to Chinese people.

Numerous integrated resort markets are known to be popular with Chinese people, including those in Australia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, and Vietnam.

Macau doesn’t appear to be included in China’s crackdown, as the SAR is part of the People’s Republic,  but simply an autonomous zone with its own laws on gambling. There hasn’t been any instance of scandal regarding one of Macau’s six licensed casino operators marketing gambling to mainlanders.