China busts major Cambodia-based online gambling ring


china-cambodia-online-gambling-bustChinese authorities have disrupted a major illegal online gambling operation based in Cambodia’s Sihanoukville region while promising to provide funds to offset the impact of Cambodia’s online gambling ban.

On Tuesday, China’s Xinhua news service reported that police in Jiangxi’s provincial capital Nanchang had disrupted a “large-scale multinational” online gambling operation that authorities claim handled wagers worth over RMB30b (US$4.3b) from a customer base of around 1.2m bettors.

While Jiangxi police led the charge, the ring was based in Cambodia’s Preah Sihanouk province, where some 200 support staff were reportedly arrested at two facilities. Six organizers of the ring, including the alleged ringleader Wu Moumou, have been brought back to China to face the music.

The Sihanoukville operation reportedly ran a number of websites with names like Golden Lisboa and Macau Casino, apparently intended to imply some relationship with Macau-licensed casino operators (a common tactic among China-focused online rings).

Cambodia’s recent decision to end its online gambling licensing regime has resulted in an exodus of Chinese nationals from Sihanoukville. Reports vary on the scale of this exodus, but it’s apparently large enough that China has just agreed to “special discussions on grants to support development” of non-gaming business ventures in Sihanoukville.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced this funding in a Facebook post, following dialogue with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the recent ASEAN conference in Bangkok. Hun Sen said China, which wholeheartedly supported Cambodia’s new online gambling stance, expressed its support for development projects in the region to help offset the blow to Sihanoukville’s economy.

Meanwhile, authorities in Mongolia’s capital Ulaanbaatar recently arrested 800 Chinese nationals allegedly involved in a major cybercrime operation that included illegal gambling, fraud, identity theft and money laundering.

Mongolian police raided four locations last week following a two-month investigation, seizing hundreds of computers and around 10k mobile phone SIM cards. The Chinese nationals all reportedly entered the country on 30-day tourist visas and the four alleged ringleaders will be deported to their native land.

China’s local embassy issued a statement saying it would be “working closely together” with Mongolian law enforcement on this matter, while praising local police for having “taken the necessary measures in this case.” China has been stepping up its cooperation with other Asia-Pacific nations in combating illegal gambling and other cyber no-nos.