81 arrested in Hong Kong illegal gambling crackdown

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81 arrested in Hong Kong illegal gambling crackdown

A five-day Hong Kong police investigation involving 100 officers ended Sunday with 81 people arrested across 14 illegal gambling operations in the city. 

Authorities said those arrested took advantage of ongoing pandemic lockdowns and opened small-scale gambling venues that included arcade machines. The games were also rigged for quicker profits. 

Radio Television Hong Kong reported the operations seized 31 gambling games, around HKD40,000 (approximately USD5,000) worth of drug paraphernalia and approximately HKD40,000 in cash. The police also said the operators used electronic payment systems to make it more difficult for the police to seize their takings. “This is a new modus operandi when compared to previous operations,” said chief inspector Tse Tsz-kwan. “Maybe they found that it’s easy for them to open accounts in some virtual banks and it’s easy for them to transfer the money to mainland and other banks.” 

China issued a further warning about illegal gambling as Chinese New Year week starts on 11 February. While a new law aiming to stop cross-border gambling will come into effect from March, authorities are already increasing their efforts to combat it. 

Director of the Ministry’s Bureau of International Cooperation Liao Jinrong said, “The annual Spring Festival holiday is the most rampant period for overseas gambling groups to invite gambling and gambling activities.” He also noted that such operations cause a large outflow of funds and are a threat to the safety of the players.

Online gambling and junket operators seem to be included in the new crackdown effort, as The Macao News reported “gambling, online gambling, or providing funds and technical support for gambling activities” are against the country’s criminal law. 

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