South Korea Police Bust $3.9bn China-Based Illegal Online Gambling Ring

  • Law enforcement arrested 20 people on Sunday in the South Korean city of Incheon
  • Another 170 people are facing a probe without detention from prosecutors
  • The operators of the gambling ring frequently switched locations to avoid detection
  • Both South Korea and China have conservative gambling laws
Handcuffed man
South Korean police have taken down a China-based illegal online gambling ring that has raked in a reported $3.9bn. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A significant operation

Police in South Korea have busted a Chinese illegal online gambling ring reportedly worth $3.9bn.

another 170 people are facing a probe

Law enforcement arrested 20 people following raids on Sunday in the South Korean city of Incheon. The Incheon Metropolitan Police Agency outlined that another 170 people are facing a probe without detention from prosecutors.

The offenders allegedly operated online gambling platforms between January 2014 and July 2021. They managed the server and numerous operating units from headquarters in China.

Lucrative business

According to authorities, the gambling ring situated its server in China in an effort to avoid detection. The group regularly changed its operating location in South Korea for the same reason. The gambling ring operated for more than seven years.

A photo from the Incheon Metropolitan Agency showed large sums of seized cash, with the authorities confiscating about ₩6.7bn ($4.6m) during the operation. Another photo showcased an illegal gambling room where suspects were allegedly managing illegal platforms.

Illicit online gambling is not just an issue confined to South Korea. Only a few days ago, police in Turkey took down a major illegal gambling ring, seizing $40m worth of cryptocurrency in the process. It appears that another $95m+ could also still be out there.

Two conservative gambling nations

Over the past few years in particular, China has cracked down on illegal gambling operations targeting people on the mainland. That covers both overseas and home-based illegal operations.

cracking down on junket operators

Now, authorities are also focusing their efforts on cracking down on junket operators, often affiliated with Asian crime gangs known as triads. Most notably, the trial of the head of the SunCity gambling junket Alvin Chau began last month.

Like China, South Korea is also conservative when it comes to its residents gambling. Currently, there are many casinos located around the country just for tourists, usually in hotels. The main casino open for Korean natives is the Kangwon Land casino. There is also a state-run sports betting operation available to citizens. It only has offline operations and has strict betting limits.