So far this year, more than 1,000 people have been caught in over 500 gambling incidents with betting services provided from overseas, Shanghai police said today, early results of an intense campaign that commenced in January to crack down on overseas gambling.
A total of 84 gambling platforms and 22 money-laundering businesses have been taken down, with more than 76 million yuan (US$11.82 million) in assets seized or frozen by the police.
Police in Jinshan District caught 18 suspects in one of the cases in which more than 2.2 billion yuan in bets were made — the result of an investigation into a gambling website called “Quhui Yule” whose servers were located overseas.
Five major suspects who operated the scheme were apprehended in Guangdong Province, and 11 others were caught in the cities of Xi’an and Chongqing by providing payment options for gamblers.
The developer of the gambling website and the person who introduced him to the major suspects were later caught in Fujian and Guangdong provinces.
Over 12,000 people had made bets on the website since March of 2020, police said.
Gambling is illegal on the Chinese mainland.
Yu Xufeng, an official with Shanghai's public security bureau, said gamblers have increasingly turned to Internet gambling instead of traveling overseas in recent years, and it is getting more difficult for police to track the flow of money.
“Gamblers usually laid their bets by paying through existing channels such as WeChat, Alipay and banks, and the money ended up in the hands of the gambling organizers through elaborate schemes,” he said.
Yu said some gamblers took it for granted that gambling on a website hosted in a foreign country exempted them from being punished by Chinese law.
“It’s punishable as long as they pay someone on the Chinese mainland to play, because the payment service providers are considered to be an extended arm of gambling organized overseas,” he said.
Exit-entry administration authorities in Shanghai said they have tightened control of gambling suspects as well as potential gamblers.
So far this year, authorities have turned down passport applications of 39 people who were allegedly involved in gambling activities, and annulled the passports of 32 others for the same reason.
More than 100 gambling suspects were caught when exiting or entering the country through Shanghai.
Recently, police busted a gang that organized human trafficking for gamblers from Shanghai to gamble in a neighboring country.
Police in Fengxian District began an investigation based on a report from the public that a local man surnamed Jia had gambled in a neighboring country several times by illegally entering the country with "a friend" via its border with China in Yunnan Province.
Police soon identified the “friend” to be a man surnamed Fan, who had frequently travelled between Shanghai and Yunnan over the past two years, and was in contact with a gambling gang based in another country.
Including Fan, 19 suspects were caught in Fengxian, Minhang and Jinshan districts and have allegedly confessed.