Gamblers in China were dealt yet another blow by COVID-19-related government measures. Along with restricting all outbound travel, the Chinese National Immigration Administration (NIA) requests the same stringent rules apply to all “gambling-related persons”. The cited reasons all revolve around the new severe waves of COVID-19 cases in Beijing and Shanghai. A few policies about “educating” or “dissuading” gamblers make it abundantly clear that no possible or even plausible excuse will go unused when it comes to limiting cross-border or outbound gambling as much as possible.
COVID-19 Measures Ground for Further Limitations
China appears to be faced with multiple new COVID-19 epidemics on local soil. Reuters reported Beijing’s denial of lockdown rumors and Shanghai battling “elusive COVID”. Shanghai is under “silent management mode” as a result while Beijing is not falling far behind with increasingly tougher measures as well. The local population is preparing for “living with the disease” amidst constant government-issued restrictions.
In the wake of worrying COVID-19 daily statistics, NIA is implementing a strict immigration policy to limit all non-essential outbound travels for citizens. The Administration also called for these new measures to be observed for all “gambling-related persons” citing that China “has cracked some 11,000 cases related to illegal cross-border gambling and fraud since the beginning of 2021,” and that’s not all of it.
“A total of 15,000 people involved in illegal outbound cross-border gambling activities have been caught, and 290 gangs organizing such illegal activities have been busted,” as per information from the China State Council published on May 12 citing the NIA meeting. All of those numbers pale in comparison to the 90,000 suspected “exit gamblers” who have been “found and dissuaded from leaving the country.”
What That Means for Gamblers
The government is expected to start implementing stricter policies for issuing entry and exit documents. The NIA has gone as far as saying that if identified as cross-border gamblers, people’s documents “should be declared null and void in accordance with the law,” making gambling an excuse to basically detain people or keep them from leaving the country.
Further indications of the aggressive stance China is taking is a reported strengthening of preventative measures as well. This reportedly includes taking a closer look or outright not granting visas when it comes to gambling hotspots like Macau or Hong Kong and people who have traveled there more than three times per year in the last three years.
People entering and exiting the country can now be the subject of close inspections if identified as “suspicious”. As a result of those inspections, selected persons or groups might be further detained for “educating” or further “dissuading” if they’ve been identified as gamblers or “gambling-related persons.”