Police from China, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar shut down a US$1.75 billion online gambling operation based in China’s Hubei Province on Thursday.
The investigation has been ongoing for two years now and involved some 400 individuals of which 37 have been detained thus far.
The server for the operation was based in Cambodia, with the gambling ring involving a network of 120 agents, according to preliminary reports.
More than a dozen suspects were also rounded up in Vietnam.
In recent months, the Chinese government has begun to crackdown on the former Portuguese gambling colony of Macau. A series of raids have occurred at various venues since the summer. Suspicion has also been cast on gambling junkets arriving from the Mainland. Officials claims that Junket operators often have ties to the triads, organized crime gangs in China.
Hoffman Ma, deputy chief executive officer of Macau casino, Ponte 16, said: “It's good for the reputation of the industry as a whole. Before, Macau was too reliant on the VIP sector – a relatively small pool of high-rollers involved in massive transactions. It's better to have an industry supported by more mass-market players. I don't think Beijing wants to see an end to funds going from mainland China to Macau. Officials just don't want people to get away with taking too much out by using underground channels.”
Ben Lee, managing partner at Igamix Management, worries about the impact this crackdown will have on the world's largest gambling empire.
“The VIP segment, which traditionally accounts for 70% of Macau's gaming revenue has suffered in terms of growth since June, whereas the mass market has remained strong," he told the Macau Daily Times. "The casinos are experiencing a switch from the VIP to the premium mass…We have been told that the mass market is growing and in particular premium mass.”
- Gilbert Horowitz, Gambling911.com