China’s Ministry of Public Security held a press conference (16 January 2020) to give an update on progress with its three-year ‘Broken Chain’ initiative to reduce gambling by Chinese citizens. The initiative began in 2019 and has already resulted in 7,200 criminal cases being brought.

The information presented at the press conference highlighted the incredible scale and scope of both the gambling activities and the efforts to stop them.

The Ministry gave details of 10 specific cases which were both national and international in their scope. One case saw the closure of an internet gambling operation whose network extended from Fujian Province to Cambodia.

Another operation resulted in the closure of 187 websites in Guangdong province, 395 arrests and the seizure of RMB 3 billion. It is reported that 1,000 Vietnamese police were involved in the operation to close down parts of the business over the border in Vietnam.

The ‘Broken Chain’ plan has four elements. It seeks to tackle: the people, the payments, the technology, and the beneficiaries of gambling.

As the existing cases have shown, China is reaching out beyond its borders to tackle gambling operations and is getting co-operation in Cambodia, Vietnam and Burma. The scope of its efforts covers all types of gambling activity – websites, gambling venues within China and junkets arranged to visit casinos in other countries.

In 2020 the Ministry of Public Security said that:

• Its international efforts would not only continue but be extended.
• There will be greater involvement of the Bank of China to tackle the payments element.
• Immigration checks will be tightened on travel to ‘key countries’ both to tackle outbound junkets and Chinese workers moving across borders for gambling networks.
• Websites will continue to be blocked and taken down.
• There will be greater regulation of other online games (e.g. chess, cards) to ensure they do not become a gambling ‘loophole’ and the possible removal of high-frequency lotteries.
• Public education will continue to highlight the illegality of gambling.

China has had previous efforts to prevent gambling within its borders. The ‘Broken Chain’ plan seems to be going beyond its own borders to tackle the issue.