Wave of raids and arrests continues
The Chinese authorities have detained roughly 5,300 suspects on illegal gambling charges since the first of the year. The Ministry of Public Security highlighted Anhui, Hubei, Liaoning, Fujian and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region as especially problematic areas.
According to Chinese gambling laws, the activity is illegal everywhere except the autonomous city of Macau, which is out of reach for most Chinese. The government is specifically targeting organized underground gambling dens and online gambling sites. Not only is offering or participating in services punishable, but so is providing protection for gamblers.
With more cash comes more gambling
Illicit gambling activities like underground Chinese poker rooms have become increasingly popular, especially in difficult-to-govern rural and suburban areas. As wages have risen dramatically in recent years workers now have more disposable income. Many are spending that money gambling.
Gambling was viewed as a major social problem in pre-Revolutionary China. The Maoist government went to great lengths to stamp out the activity. But as China becomes wealthier and the state is relatively less powerful, it appears that gambling is on the rise again.
The ministry has announced that it will punish policemen and public officials who fail to combat the problem, and encourages citizens who have any information of gambling rings to report it to the authorities.