China Plans Major Illegal Online Gambling Crackdown in 2020

  • Chinese authorities will focus their efforts on cutting down on illegal cross-border gambling
  • They deem the constant changing of gambling fund settlement methods a main issue
  • 2019 saw $2.6bn worth of suspected illegal gambling cash seized or frozen
  • China will work with agencies in the Philippines to stop illegal ops targeting Chinese residents
playing cards and Chinese yuan on computer keyboard
China will increase its efforts in tackling illegal online gambling through a major nationwide crackdown on cross-border operations. [Image:]

Authorities ramp up their efforts

The Chinese authorities are placing major emphasis on cutting down on illegal cross-border online gambling in 2020, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Public Security’s Vice Minister, Sun Lijun.

Sun Lijun spoke about the authorities’ successes in combating illegal gambling throughout 2019. Acknowledging the significant results to date, Lijun said that overall, the illegal gambling space has not been fundamentally changed as “gambling fund settlement methods are constantly being renovated.”

Major betting events ahead in 2020, including the Tokyo Olympics and the Euro 2020 Football Championship, are expected to prove popular among illegal operators.

Strong results in 2019

Numerous China government departments came together for a meeting as part of Gambling Prohibition Publicity Month. The nationwide program serves to emphasize the state-run lottery system as the only legal form of gambling on the mainland.

7,200 criminal cases involving online gambling in 2019, which saw more than 25,000 people arrested

The meeting presented key statistics from the crackdown operations carried out in 2019. The data shows 7,200 criminal cases involving online gambling in 2019, which saw more than 25,000 people arrested. A total of $2.6bn of suspected online gambling cash was frozen or seized by the authorities.

The records also indicate a decrease in the volume of bets made and visits to illegal gambling sites by Chinese residents year-on-year. Tougher enforcement has also resulted in higher transaction costs for the illegal platforms.

Cross-border plans

Sun Lijun said there would be a significant cross-border clampdown. He added that the authorities would “target key gambling countries and international gambling groups in the surrounding areas.”

In 2019, the Chinese authorities called upon other nations across Southeast Asia to ban online gambling and take strict measures against illegal operations. The action was triggered by operations in these countries that were found to be targeting Chinese residents via online gambling sites. 

Cambodia complied with the request from China, calling for all online gambling operations in the country to be shut down by January 1, 2020. So far, the 91 casinos still operating in Cambodia have closed down their online offering, leaving thousands of people without jobs.

Relations with the Philippines

The Philippines did not implement a similar online gambling ban despite requests from the Chinese government. It plans to continue to legally license online gambling operators in the region. 

However, the Chinese and Philippine authorities have announced they will be working together to fight against illegal gambling operations based in the Philippines. President Rodrigo Duterte said there would be no interference in the country’s laws from Chinese officials.

The Philippines President added that Chinese residents found to be illegally working in the country’s gambling sector will be deported. In 2019, the majority of the 2,000 illegal aliens who were working in the Philippine gambling industry and subsequently deported were Chinese nationals. 

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