China continues to prosecute international gambling networks luring citizens from the mainland abroad to gamble. VIP junket tours and other gambling tour groups are in the crosshairs again.
The Ministry of Public Security claimed that $150 billion was moved out of China for gambling purposes last year. President Xi Jinping claims that the large amount of Chinese money gambled abroad represents a threat to national security.
The director of the International Cooperation Department of the Ministry of Public Security, Liao Jinrong, said 35,000 Chinese people are already facing charges of gambling abroad.
“Our goal is to completely paralyze the soliciting networks by the gambling groups working outside our country that targeted our people, and we will not give up until we achieve our goal,” Liao said at a briefing.
China’s Criminal Code levies harsh penalties for anyone found guilty of enticing overseas gambling tourists abroad. Starting March 1, serious breaches of the law will result in a 10-year prison sentence.
China’s special administrative regions (SARs) like Macau are not in China’s crosshairs. China’s main concern is money being funneled out of the mainland to international casinos through junket tours and the like.
Macau has agreed to cooperate with authorities in China to crack down on illegal online gambling applications or organizations targeting high rollers to gamble abroad.
Chinese high rollers embark on million-dollar gambling sprees globally, and VIP high roller junket tours prize them above all others. Megaresorts in Australia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore all use junket tour groups to pull in the high rollers.
Junket tours offer private jets, luxury accommodation, currency exchange services, and more.
Junket tour operators have been accused of money laundering and links to organized crime. Money is transferred into foreign accounts for gambling purposes through the junket operators. After a currency exchange transaction, it becomes untraceable and may be used for anything from gambling to property purchases abroad.
As a result of the Crown inquiry, the opening of the new Crown Resort in Sydney was blocked while regulators determine the Crown’s worthiness to hold a gaming license. Several Crown leaders have stepped down as a result of the inquiry.
Meanwhile, China’s anti-gambling crusade continues. And international casinos which rely on junket tours will certainly feel the heat.