A joint operation by authorities in China and Taiwan has disrupted a cross-border online gambling operation that utilized convenience store chains to help its customers process payments. On Tuesday, Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) and China’s Online Information Security Bureau (OISB) announced their long-running investigation of the Golden Cruise Casino site had resulted in the arrests of four individuals. These individuals are believed to have earned up to NT$100m (US $3.3m) between January and October by selling virtual credits ostensibly intended for use with online gaming sites but which could also be used at a number of real-money online gambling operators.
IDN News identified the Taiwanese-based Golden Cruise site’s address as g-dc88.com. That site posted a message this week that it would “cease operations” immediately and asked “forgiveness” from its customers for the inconvenience. The site lists a number of real-money online gambling operators it had partnered with, including Golden Club, Royal1688 Casino, Sun Game and PokerKing.
According to the Central News Agency, the Golden Cruise Casino was a truly global affair, with the website based in Taiwan, its mainframe in Canada, and its customer service center located on the Chinese mainland. The China Post reported that the operation’s customers could make payments to the site via convenience store chains including 7-11, FamilyMart, Hi-Life and OK Mart, under the guise of a virtual points and credit exchange for legitimate online gaming sites. Customer winnings were paid out on a face-to-face basis with members of the Golden Cruise Casino operation.
The tandem operation represents the first time the CIB and the OISB have cooperated on an online gambling bust, a rare show of unanimity between China and what it regards as its ‘renegade province’ Taiwan. The traditional tension between the two nations is believed to be one of the principal causes behind Taiwan’s foot-dragging on authorizing resort casino development on its outlying Matsu Islands chain. The Matsu region is just 16km from the Chinese mainland and any Matsu-based casino would rely heavily on a steady stream of Chinese gamblers to make its operations a success. In February, authorities in neighboring Fujian province warned that they could block its residents from accessing any Matsu casino, which caused many to question the wisdom of greenlighting a casino in the region.