China Issues Cross-Border Gambling Warning

New cross-border gambling laws come into effect in China on March 1 and junkets are worried.

Chinese officials put the cat amongst the pigeons this weekend by issuing a warning to those involved in cross-border gambling. They set a deadline of April 30 for individuals to hand themselves in to the authorities unless face the consequences.

The Ministry of Public Security (MPS), the Supreme People’s Court, and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate issued a joint notice of surrender to those engaged in cross-border gambling. The warning covers not only online but land-based gambling. It gives an April 30 deadline for those involved to surrender to the Chinese courts. China promised a degree of leniency, however, if people hand themselves in to authorities.

Official encourage citizens to come forward under their own steam. will be given “the opportunity to rehabilitate and strive for leniency,” according to the notice. Leniency comes in the form of a “lighter or mitigated punishment according to law.” It doesn’t state, however, how light that punishment is.

This promise is all well and good but there is a major catch worth considering.

Those coming forward are obligated to report or expose criminal activity of others. There is a requirement for them to actively assist the capture of others in the cross-border gambling business. It is then, and only then, the courts will consider lighter punishments.

Furthermore, citizens not involved in cross-border gambling are encouraged to report people who are. Authorities will protect any whistleblowers from any retaliation from those reported.

2020 Ended With China Amending Cross-Border Gambling Laws

China amended its cross-border gambling laws at the end of 2020. Those luring Chinese national to gamble abroad face up to 10 years in prison. Article 303 of the Criminal Law is the area of concern to junket operators. A newly inserted clause reads:

“Persons setting up or managing casinos overseas, or other they appoint who organise and solicit citizens of the People’s Republic of China to go abroad and participate in gambling.”

The new law comes into effect on March 1, 2021.

Junket operators fretted when the news broke because they’re unaware if Macau is considered “abroad.” Junkets make huge sums of money from ferrying Chinese VIPs from mainland China to Macau. The cross a physical border, therefore, are operating a cross-border gambling operation.

China Clamps Down on Cross-Border Gambling

This ultimatum comes only a week after China expanded its blacklist of cross-border gambling tourist destinations. China created the blacklist in August 2020, although it hasn’t revealed which countries are on it.

The Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MCT) announced in late January the travel blacklist is extending. Analysts speculate the initial list has Australia, Cambodia, the Philippines, and Vietnam on it.

The MCT is refusing to disclose the blacklisted countries to prevent Chinese citizens fearing travelling will get them into trouble. Mainland Chinese defying government rules face future travel restrictions. Demeriting its infamous social credit system prevents Chinese travelling abroad. It rewards citizens who behave in approved ways and punishes those who defy orders.

Could This Spell The End For Junkets?

The new cross-gambling laws cast the future of junkets in serious doubt. They make massive sums of money, money that they won’t give up lightly.

Some junkets hide their gambling activities in creative ways. For example, they pretend to offer trips and tours abroad with no mention of gambling. How long they can continue this charade with the Chinese authorities breathing down their necks is anyone’s guess. Not for long is our guess.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit junkets hard. Travel restrictions resulted in a massive fall in customers needing their services. Likewise, casino closures meant any customers wanting to cross-border gamble couldn’t.

Crown Resorts cut ties with junket operators in November 2020, although only temporarily. Crown did so in the hope of pleasing the inquiry into its suitability to hold a casino licence.