Earlier this month, Chinese officials announced plans to crack down on illegal internet gambling. In a statement from the Ministry of Public Security, it was revealed that unlicensed gambling sites operating out of China would be perused, and the operators would be prosecuted.
In China, two state-operated lotteries are the only legal forms of gambling. Casino-style gambling and all forms of online gambling in China are banned. The crackdown on illegal internet gambling is only going after locally-hosted sites that are operated within China’s borders, since the government has no jurisdiction over foreign-run sties.
Unlicensed internet gambling sites in China are abundant, but it is now abundantly clear that China is very serious about eradicating them. During the past couple of weeks, police have shut down 210 of these gambling sites, and have made 918 arrests. It is also clear that this is only the beginning.
According to Gu Jian, vice director of the Bureau of Cyber Security under the Ministry of Public Security, a further 122 “less severe” sites were also targeted, and a further 351 individuals were punished but not arrested.
All of the people targeted by this new anti-gambling initiative are site operators – no players are being punished. The anti-gambling campaign officially launched on February 8, and it is expected to last up to seven months. It is a joint effort between several government ministries and financial regulatory bodies including the MPS and the People’s Bank of China.
The government sees internet gambling in China as a threat to social and economic order. Considering the number of sites already shut down by the campaign, it seems many Chinese disagree. While local sites are currently in jeopardy, gambling websites run from other countries will continue to target players in China, and are now the safest places for players to gamble.