Beijing officials have launched an attack on the city’s underworld in an attempt to clean things up and advocate a healthy, wholesome lifestyle. This three-part campaign is going after local drug trafficking, underground prostitution rings, and unlicensed gambling. Most of these ‘industries’ have ties with organized crime.
“During the drive, we will crack down hard on organized crime behind all those social evils,” reported He An’gang, spokesperson for the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau.
Since the crackdown began last month, 33 entertainment venues with ties to illegal prostitution have been shut down, and 111 suspects have been detained. The attack on drug trafficking has also been successful, and with the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking coming up on June 26, officials hope to make even more progress in this area.
The attack on gambling is focusing on sports betting, especially internet betting in China. The 2010 FIFA World Cup opens on June 11 in South Africa, and city officials are concerned that the event will be accompanied by a huge surge in crime, especially in underground sports betting. The problem is not so much the fact that people are gambling, but that much of it is being done illegally.
According to Chinese gambling laws, most forms of gambling in the country are prohibited. This naturally causes a massive underground gambling industry to emerge, and officials have been battling it for decades. Now that online gambling is becoming more commonplace, Chinese authorities are having even more trouble keeping gambling under control. Players in China can bet online at foreign-based websites which, because they operate outside of the Chinese government’s jurisdiction, face little recourse for accepting Chinese players.
Meanwhile in Macau, gambling thrives, with annual revenues surpassing even those reported by the gambling metropolis of Las Vegas. Perhaps mainland China could learn something from Macau – sometimes, regulation is a more effective means of control than prohibition.