Police in Hong Kong have smashed an illegal gambling operation comprising a network of underground casinos that were offering arcade machines as betting games. This sophisticated operation was under the control of a gang from the Hunan province in mainland China.
estimated that the group made a profit of more than HK$14m (US$1.8m) during the past six months
The authorities identified eight different establishments that were involved in this illegal gambling operation. These casinos were located in Sham Shui Po and Mong Kok. Authorities have estimated that the group made a profit of more than HK$14m (US$1.8m) during the past six months.
28 people arrested
Police raided the casinos on Sunday following a long-running investigation. This involved the special duty squad and officers from the anti-triad unit of the Sham Shui Po police department.
In total, 28 people were arrested in these raids. A total of 18 arcade machines were seized and the gambling dens have been shut down.
Two of alleged ringleaders were arrested at the supposed command center. Cash totaling HK$100,000 (US$12,900) was also found, as well as some weapons. Another alleged ring leader was arrested on Monday after police spotted him visiting the command center.
The ringleaders are facing charges relating to money laundering and operating an illegal gambling operation. There is a max prison sentence of 14 years for money laundering in Hong Kong, as well as a fine of HK$5m (US$645,000).
Machines were converted
A central command location in Mong Kok would aggregate all of the casino winnings from the various gambling facilities each night. A police source said: “To avoid detection, the money was transferred into their bank accounts on the mainland via money changers.”
Incentives for gamblers
In a similar fashion to slot machines, there was a jackpot on offer through these betting games an incentive to keep gamblers coming back. Free meals and drinks were also provided.
According to the police, the majority of the gamblers were involved in the underworld, including triad members and drug traffickers. The police source estimated that each of the underground gambling dens was generating a profit of HK$10,000 (US$12,900) each night.