Strict Chinese gambling laws have led to the arrest of 3,430 suspects in an online gambling crackdown that began back in February. Officials have been chasing down illegally-operating gambling websites for several months now, confiscating equipment and taking the owners into custody. Nearly 600 million yuan (88 million U.S. dollars) in funds have been frozen in the process.
Approximately 25 unlicensed gambling organizations have been shut down as a result of the operation, the Public Security Ministry said on Friday. The crackdown is not going after players, but instead is focusing on anyone who hosts and operates online gambling sites in China without permission. This includes not only websites where players can gamble directly, but also websites that act as liaisons between Chinese players and online gambling sites, providing information about where they can play.
While there are countless online gambling sites hosted around the world that continue to offer services to players in China, these lie outside of the Chinese government’s jurisdiction. The crackdown can therefore only target individuals who are physically in China, and who are associated with unlicensed internet gambling activities. Some of those arrested do have ties with foreign-based gambling organizations, so China has seen a slight decline in activity from foreign gambling groups, but there are still plenty of options open to players.
An additional measure that Chinese officials are taking is to go after payment processors in China. This is similar to the tactic the United States is using to curb online gambling. Again, while it will have an effect on the industry, it will not change much at the end of the day.
This internet gambling purge is scheduled to end in August of this year.