China Busts $100bn Online Gaming Syndicate, Names Philippine 'Base'

February 23, 2024
Back
Chinese police have announced the arrest of 93 people suspected of involvement in an international online gambling ring with turnover of more than $100bn, with authorities unusually naming a Philippine resort that allegedly hosts the syndicate.
Body

Chinese police have announced the arrest of 93 people suspected of involvement in an international online gambling ring with a turnover of more than $100bn, with authorities unusually naming a Philippine resort that allegedly hosts the syndicate.

Police in Sichuan Province under the supervision of the Ministry of Public Security arrested the 93 suspects and seized more than 20m yuan ($2.8m) in cash, according to a report on the state-run CCTV-13 channel and online media reports.

The syndicate had amassed almost 1m members and generated more than 725.5bn yuan ($101bn) in turnover before being taken apart by a Deyang City task force in June 2023, with arrests being made across 20 provinces, the reports said.

The operation captured the “main members” of the syndicate during the operation, the reports said.

The first tranche of 50 suspects has been transferred to a Sichuan court for trial, marking the first time the police have discussed the investigation.

Apart from its scale, the case is unusual because the authorities have named the location in the Philippines where the alleged syndicate's table game broadcasts and China-facing websites are based.

Police identified the Cagayan Holiday & Leisure Resort on the northern tip of Luzon island as the base of operations, with the allegedly affiliated “Kakawan” website name corresponding to the resort’s series of gaming URLs bracketed under www.kkw2222.com and www.kkw3333.com.

Sichuan police investigated after receiving several complaints from local gamblers, with the investigation uncovering a network of around 300 personnel in the Philippines and some 50,000 China-based agents supporting the operation.

Police also allege that Chinese migrants brought into the country to support the property were shifted from promised service jobs at the resort to perform gaming operations.

It was not immediately clear, however, if staff have been forced to work at Cagayan Holiday & Leisure Resort or otherwise mistreated. The CCTV report referred only to “training and brainwashing” rather than threats, violence, enslavement or other coercive methods.

There are no reports of Philippine police raiding the property amid high-profile rescue operations at scam centres and online gambling hubs in Metro Manila and Clark Freeport in 2023 that liberated thousands of Filipinos and foreign nationals.

The CCTV report is also noteworthy in the context of Chinese-Philippine bilateral relations and Beijing’s efforts to pressure Manila into shutting down China-facing online gambling operations.

Previous mass media reports on illegal gambling inside and outside China have flagged aggressive spikes in enforcement against Chinese gamblers and Chinese workers in the gambling industry overseas.

Such operations remain illegal in theory under the charter of gambling regulator PAGCOR, but they are regulated in practice and furnish the bulk of online operator fees paid to PAGCOR.

PAGCOR's support for the foreign-facing online gambling industry is resolute, but the segment is under increasing pressure from senators, financial and anti-money laundering officials, civic groups and others over associated crime, official corruption and social harm.

Two bills that would ban all such operations were passed for general debate by the House of Representatives Games and Amusements Committee on February 12.

Our premium content is available to users of our services.

To view articles, please Log-in to your account, or sign up today for full access:

Opt in to hear about webinars, events, industry and product news

To find out more about Vixio, contact us today
No items found.