China’s Ministry of Public Security has just announced plans to crack down on the country’s internet gambling industry. The attack will be made on two fronts: on one side, unlicensed gambling sites will be perused; on the other, the Ministry will go after underground banks which help players fund their online accounts.
The operation will begin already this month and is expected to continue through August. The crackdown comes after lengthy discussions that included input from the Supreme Court, the Propaganda bureau, the Central Bank and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
According to Chinese gambling laws, most forms of gambling are illegal, and have been for more than fifty years. Two exactions to the rule are both state-operated lotteries. Despite this ban, online casinos in China are prolific, while underground gambling dens fill the back streets of the country’s metropolitan areas.
The main targets of the crackdown operation will be illegal banks and unlicensed payment processors that have been created to help players fund their online gambling accounts. These underground money transfer services only work with locally-operated gambling sites. The government still needs to find a way to contend with foreign-operated sites that target Chinese players.
Other targets include unlicensed gambling operators. The Ministry of Public Safety released a statement about their plans, and it seems they will be ruthless, with mentions of arrests and “severe punishment” setting the tone.
It is important to note that the crackdown does not target players. Only gambling operators and institutions which assist them are being investigated and shut down. More importantly, while the Chinese government goes after local sites, they have no legal jurisdiction over sites hosted in other countries, so Chinese players will very likely continue to use them.