China looks set to increase the penalties handed out to gambling firms operating on its soil to as much as ten years in prison.
The new draft version of Article 303, which is the statute pertaining to China’s gambling regulation, confirms that anyone ‘organising or soliciting gambling online’ will be subject to the harsher penalty.
Loosely translated into English, the legislation will punish ‘…whoever operates or manages casinos, or is designated by casinos outside the country, and organizes or solicits Chinese residents to participate in overseas gambling, where the amount involved is large with a serious nature, shall be punished according to provisions under the preceding paragraph.’
It is thought that the revised law would specifically target any Chinese national gambling at an online casino based overseas AND in land-based casinos in countries where China has an extradition agreement in place.
It is expected that the punishment for simply engaging in gambling will remain at three years, so the emphasis of Article 303 is in shutting down operations which, according to the China News Service, is responsible for ‘large capital outflow’ and ‘serious damage to the nation’s image and economic security.’
Quite who decides what a ‘large’ and ‘serious nature’ is remains to be seen, but it’s clear once again that Chinese officials are trying to muscle as many rivals to its own Macau-based casinos out of the game.
The new version of Article 303 will now undergo a period of public consultation until November 19, and with the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) reportedly having green lit the plans they are expected to be formally unveiled in March 2021.
China’s Cross-Border Battle
The further regulatory reform in the gambling sector is just the latest step in China’s battle with cross-border betting.
Authorities in the country have claimed that nearly 9,000 cases of Chinese nationals gambling within a neighbouring jurisdiction have now been investigated, with more than 60,000 arrests made both in terms of those placing the bets and those accepting them.
UK and Gibraltar based companies have also been targeted, with as many as 35,000 gambling firms licensed by the jurisdictions blocked and 73 million text and push messages containing gambling advertisements seized, to go with the 1,700 online and offline gambling operations that have been shut down and the 1,400 ‘underground banks’ foiled .
Now, the Chinese government has reportedly drawn up a ‘blacklist’ of countries and regions where nationals could, in future, be banned from travelling to.
They haven’t named the prohibited zones yet, although there is a clear indication that they want to stamp out the ‘junket’ culture that is driving taxes out of Macau and overseas. High rolling Chinese men and women are invited on VIP junkets by international tourism operators and, in some cases, are lent money to bet with that must later be repaid.
It is rumoured that the Philippines and India will be on the blacklist – both destinations are popular with Chinese travellers, while any nation that allows Chinese nationals to bet ‘by proxy’, i.e. services where bets are placed on behalf of the punter, who is watching on remotely, will also be targeted.