China vows to ramp up anti-online gambling fight in 2020


china-illegal-online-gambling-enforcementChina will ramp up its targeting of unauthorized cross-border online gambling in 2020, according to the country’s top crime-fighting agency.

On Monday, Sun Lijun, vice-minister of China’s Ministry of Public Security, issued a statement trumpeting the authorities’ successes in combating unauthorized online gambling in 2019. The nation’s law enforcement units cracked their whips against 7,200 criminal online gambling cases last year, arresting over 25k subjects and seizing or freezing RMB18b (US$2.6b) in suspected online gambling cash.

These stats were delivered at a meeting of multiple government departments who are embarking on ‘Gambling Prohibition Publicity Month,’ a national program intended to remind China’s population that gambling on pretty much anything except the state-run lotteries is frowned upon by the state.

Sun Lijun said China would look to “deepen cross-border online gambling prevention and control work.” While efforts to date have achieved “significant results,” the overall situation “has not been fundamentally changed” because the “gambling fund settlement methods are constantly being renovated.”

While Chinese officials have apparently told the Philippines that China won’t interfere with the Philippine regulated online gambling market, Sun Lijun wants all levels of law enforcement to “target key gambling countries and international gambling groups in the surrounding areas.”

China’s 2019 anti-gambling efforts got a major boost when Beijing convinced Cambodia to shut down its locally licensed online gambling sector as of January 1, 2020. Cambodian officials recently reported that all 91 casinos that had been offering online gambling services — all of which relied primarily on mainland Chinese clients — are so far complying with the shutdown order.

Chinese authorities will have their work cut out for them this summer thanks to the Euro 2020 football tournament. Both the UEFA tourney and the FIFA World Cup have traditionally brought significant spikes in unauthorized online betting activity, and this year will likely prove no different. Then again, since this is officially the year of the rat, perhaps there will be a greater number of informants feeding the Ministry with inside information.