Taiwan’s cyber cops have disrupted yet another major technology support hub for sketchy China-facing online gambling sites.
Late last week, the telecom division of Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) announced the arrest of 34 individuals suspected in involvement in a major online gambling software and payment processing support network for a variety of China-facing gambling sites.
CIB officers reportedly became aware that the Taipei-based Yi Digital Entertainment Development was a front for unauthorized online gambling activity in January. In addition to the arrests, police seized 29 computers, 103 phones, 140 UnionPay cards and 323 ‘U Shields’ (apps that assist mobile banking transactions).
The group’s alleged ringleader reportedly recruited individuals on the Chinese mainland to open local bank accounts through which the online gambling payments could be processed. The Yi Digital business reportedly handled online gambling transactions worth over NT$10m (US$340k) per day over an unspecified period.
Yi Digital claimed to be managing operations for non-gambling gaming platforms but the authorities say they were actually supporting real-money gambling sites, including one operating under the name Macau Grand Lisboa.
The Grand Lisboa trademark belongs to Macau casino licensee SJM Holdings, which has at numerous times in recent years been forced to disavow any connections to sites using its trademarks without authorization.
China-facing sites piggybacking on Macau casino brand identities are familiar targets for authorities in both Taiwan and China. Last December, the CIB disrupted a technology hub supporting sites that used Las Vegas Sands’ name as well as imagery associated with fellow Macau licensee Galaxy Entertainment Group.
While China famously doesn’t get along with Taiwan’s current government, authorities in Beijing will undoubtedly welcome the CIB’s efforts to combat unauthorized online gambling targeting mainland residents. Mainland officials have stepped up their crackdown on unauthorized gambling payment channels, part of a broader campaign against all ‘cross-border’ gambling activity.