China to Add New Destinations to Cross-Border Gambling Blacklist

  • Ministry of Culture and Tourism did not specify any locations in its latest announcement
  • Blacklist system started in August last year in an effort to protect Chinese citizens overseas
  • Analysts believe the as-yet-undisclosed blacklisted areas include Vietnam, Philippines, Cambodia
  • Authorities identified $150bn in outflow for overseas gambling in the first nine months of 2020
  • Chinese police arrested over 75,000 people in 2020 for gambling-related offenses
Black button on white computer ketboard reads Black List
China will be adding more blacklisted overseas locations as part of its ongoing crackdown on cross-border gambling. [Image:]

No disclosure of specific areas

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism in China announced Tuesday that it will add further locations to its blacklist of tourist destinations deemed to be luring Chinese visitors to gamble overseas. The ministry’s statement did not outline the specific areas that are going on the list.

China initially introduced the blacklist system in August 2020 to “safeguard the lives and property of Chinese citizens.” The country’s authorities at the time acted on the observation that overseas destinations were opening up casinos in an effort to target tourists from mainland China.

citizens who visit the destinations that appear on the list will be subject to travel restrictions

Both the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs played a role in the creation of the blacklist. Any Chinese citizens who visit the destinations that appear on the list will be subject to travel restrictions. 

Cracking down on cross-border activity

Chinese authorities have not disclosed any destination that they have added or plan to add to the blacklist. Investment analysts previously expressed their views that the creation of this blacklist was a warning to up and coming gambling regions looking to attract VIP visitors from China. They believe the prohibited areas could include Vietnam, the Philippines, and Cambodia. 

Also on Tuesday, the Chinese Embassy in Cambodia warned Chinese passport-holders to avoid gambling in the country, following a number of violent incidents that occurred in relation to gambling activity.

In a further effort to combat cross-border gambling, a new addition to criminal law in China comes into effect on March 1. The measure will make it a criminal act to “organize” people in mainland China to engage in “cross-border” gambling activity.

US$150bn intended to reach foreign territories for overseas gambling purposes

The outflow of money from China for overseas gambling is a serious concern for the authorities. In a statement last October, the Ministry of Public Security in China identified almost US$150bn intended to reach foreign territories for overseas gambling purposes during the first three quarters of 2020. The same government body set up an online reporting platform in June last year to allow members of the public to flag instances of cross-border gambling.

The fight against illegal gambling

As well as the latest plans to add certain gambling destinations to the blacklist, Chinese authorities have also been trying to crack down on different forms of illegal gambling.

Currently, the only form of legal gambling allowed on mainland China is the state lottery.

A main area of focus has been online gambling operations that have a base overseas but which target people in mainland China. In 2020, police shut down more than 2,260 online platforms, seizing significant funds in the process. 

In many of the 3,500+ cross-border cases they dealt with last year, China’s authorities collaborated with the relevant authorities in Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia, and the Philippines. The 2020 crackdown operations led Chinese police to make over 75,000 arrests in relation to illegal gambling.

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