Malaysia Arrests 26 Chinese Nationals in Latest Underground Gambling Raid

  • Serdang state authorities bust another China-targeting gambling operation in Seri Kembangan
  • Region just south of Kuala Lumpur remains a hub for illegal Chinese-language sites
  • Several hundred Chinese nationals have been arrested in multiple raids since start of 2019 alone
do not enter tape sealing off a crime scene
Malaysia continues to crack down on illicit websites targeting Chinese gamblers. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Another ring cracked in Seri Kembangan

Malaysian officials have announced the arrest of 26 Chinese nationals found to be operating an illicit China-facing online gambling operation. The arrests of the 24 men and two women took place in Seri Kembangan, in Serdang state just south of the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

Authorities also seized nine desk computers, three laptops, and 28 mobile phones

According to Datuk Rohaimi Md Isa, the assistant director of the Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department (D7) for Anti-Vice, Mischief, and Gangsterism, the Thursday night raid followed a three-month investigation. The 26 Chinese nationals are being held at a Serdang police station pending the formal filing of charges.

Those arrested range in age from 16 to 42. Authorities also seized nine desk computers, three laptops, and 28 mobile phones, inferring that the arrests were in connection with an underground sports-betting operation.

Chinese social chat networks linked

As with many other recent online gambling raids in the region, authorities learned of the underground ring via posts made on Chinese-language chat platforms TikTok and WeChat. Those arrested allegedly participated in betting and promotional activities for online gambling and public lotteries.

Datuk Rohaimi Md Isa believes these underground rings fool players.

They are fooling gamblers in China by saying that the chances of winning are high and that the customers have to try their luck.”

He added that seized records indicated the illegal gambling was conducted in Chinese yuan currency. The ring generated daily revenue of 20,000 to 25,000 Malaysian ringgits (MYR), which is around $5,500.

Region is underground gambling hotbed

The Seri Kembangan area near Kuala Lumpur has become a hotbed of underground gambling sites targeting China, where such gambling is highly popular but strictly illegal.

Just three weeks ago, Serdang authorities arrested 16 Chinese nationals in a similar raid at a different Seri Kembangan location.

Late last year, in one of the higher-profile anti-gambling crackdowns, authorities rescued another 32 Chinese nationals from an operation. They were found to have been forced to work against their will for the gambling ring.

The latest arrests continue to add to an endemic situation Malaysia is struggling to control. From the start of 2019 through April, authorities in Serdang state had arrested over 300 people in connection with various China-facing gambling sites. Hundreds more have been arrested since then, including in the most recent operations.

Malaysian authorities have not commented as to how much assistance they have received from Chinese officials. Over the past two years, China has ramped up its monitoring of gambling activity on prominent chat apps.

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