The gambling market in Asia: the most striking cases
In the last year, the media reported hundreds of horrific court cases, corruption scandals, police investigations, and illegal gambling establishments in Asian countries. Corruption and clandestine and sometimes even lethal activities have been uncovered in countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, India, and the Philippines. Because these countries have weak political systems and high levels of corruption, they lead the way in anti-illegal gambling. However, some regions with more vital leadership systems, such as China, Macao and Singapore, also see cases of illegal activity. However, they try to curb unlicensed gambling, but not always successfully.
In short, the Asian continent is one of the most promising and, at the same time, unstable regions in terms of gambling. Despite the many restrictions, the inhabitants of the East love gambling and often take their passion to an extreme level. Let’s say right away that fans of the IPL win app and similar entertainment are not affected by this article because they are legal. Here we will talk about the most unusual and criminal cases in the illegal segment of entertainment.
The legal situation in Asia
Asia is an up-and-coming region for online gambling. The tradition of gambling here is long-standing. Moreover, Asians constitute more than 60% of the world’s total population. Thus, many gambling operators meet the needs of Asian players.
At the same time, Asia is still a developing region in this sphere, as the legal environment here could be more balanced. Some countries allow land-based gambling strictly in tourist destinations, such as the integrated resorts of:
- South Korea;
- Malaysia, etc.
Now let’s look at the scandals associated with casinos in Asia.
Thai police confiscated $12 million from an online bookmaker.
In September 2022, police in Thailand conducted a series of investigations, seizing more than $12 million from an illegal gambling syndicate. Police searched more than 50 locations in 10 provinces in Thailand and found more than 40 suspects.
It turns out that the illegal gambling gang offered online betting services on three automated platforms that reached more than 50,000 users.
700 Malaysians were taken hostage in Laos after they responded to a casino ad
In October 2022, all of Asia was shocked to learn that some 700 Malaysians were being held hostage in Bokeo province in Laos. According to local news outlets, the captive Malaysians were responding to job ads that offered jobs at a Chinese casino resort. About 700 people were trapped in fraudulent centres whose owners demanded ransoms from families ranging from 50,000 to 100,000 ringgits ($11,56,000 to $23,11,000).
At these centres, Malaysians worked as online fraudsters. Moreover, there were rumours of managers mistreating hostages. Namely, it was reported that the kidnappers beat and tortured “workers” in cases of insubordination.
An unnamed Laotian stated that there are many such cases in the country’s special economic zone, also known as Laos’ gambling centre. The source claims many illegals from Malaysia, Vietnam, and Myanmar. The kidnappers usually confiscate the passports and phones of the hostages so that they have no chance to escape.
The case was reported by the Malaysian Humanitarian Organization, Community Crime Care and the Malaysian Consumer Association, who worked on it.
Malaysia’s prime minister claims gambling money was partly used for elections.
In December 2022, Malaysia was in the spotlight again. This time, Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim claimed that gambling was partly used to finance elections in the southeastern country. Ibrahim said that all parties, whether Islamic or Malay, financed their election campaigns with money from the gambling industry.
The prime minister also touched on kleptocracy and corruption in Malaysia, saying he was determined to reform the system in the country.
Indonesian governor spends $39 million on gambling
Indonesia’s anti-money laundering agency reports that Papua provincial governor Lucas Enembe has spent over $39 million on casino games. Enembe, previously suspected of corruption, has made numerous transactions with offshore casinos since 2017. One of the payments totalled S$5 million ($3.8 million).
The governor’s lavish spending was reported to the Corruption Eradication Commission. The governor denies all allegations.
China liquidated a gambling gang that laundered $6 billion in cryptocurrency.
Regarding big gambling scams, China is bound to come out on top. In September 2022, Chinese police discovered an illegal gambling network in Hunan province. Although all forms of gambling except the lottery are banned in the communist country, the gang managed to launder $5.6 billion using cryptocurrency. The gang ran a casino network and a fraudulent telecommunications scheme using digital currency.
During the investigation, police arrested 93 people across the country and froze $41.4 billion in their accounts. Authorities were able to recover $1.07 million and will direct those funds to victims of the fraudsters.
Illegal Chinese gambling network made $29 billion in 8 years
In September 2022, Chinese authorities arrested nine people in Hong Province for running a criminal gambling network. The gambling establishments targeted Chinese customers and earned nearly $29 billion (197.8 billion yuan) in eight years of operation from 2014 to 2022.
Hunan’s authorities call the case cross-border, as the criminals also operated land-based casinos in Myanmar. At the same time, the gambling network offered proxy betting and online gambling to more than 253,000 players from mainland China.
The court sentenced the suspects to prison terms ranging from 18 months to five years.