October 13, 2014

Over 7,000 Chinese officials punished for gambling offenses

China’s attempts to crackdown on illegal gambling activities has resulted in thousands of government officials getting punished for offenses related to illegal gambling since the belt-tightening began in the middle of last year.

The Shanghai Daily quoted a central government reporting that 7,162 officials were punished for their involvement in illegal gambling activities from more than 30 cities and provinces in China. Of these locations, the Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces reported the most cases with the former accounting for 1,575 cases and the latter having 1,127 cases. No details were released on the severity of the punishments but reports suggested that officials were given anywhere from warnings to administrative punishments.

The report puts weight on separate incidents wherein Chinese government officials made headlines in the past for their gambling foibles, including officials who were alleged to have taken bribes “by being allowed to win” at mahjong by gambling owners. In China, it’s a common practice, especially in the Guizhou province, as a way of winning “favors” and preferential treatment for potential business dealings in the future.

Back in May, a deputy director from Liuzhou’s social security management office was also arrested over allegations that he pocketed 3 million yuan in public funds just to pay off his losing bets on soccer. A similar case was also reported in Guangxi’s Liangjiang Town wherein Finance Office Director Lu Shengle allegedly siphoned off 3.23 million in government money to pay his own gambling debts.

Then there’s the case in Fotang Town in Zhejiang’s Yiwu City where a village official is currently under investigation over allegations that he has more than 4 million yuan in debts in Macau, following a suicide attempt in late September.

All these punishments of government officials has come at a time when the country has aggressively pushed its anti-corruption campaign. Since gambling is illegal anywhere in China except Macau, government officials who have engaged in illegal gambling in the past are now being put on blast, front and center, to answer for their alleged misgivings.

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