Illicit online gambling websites were at the center of the illegal gambling operation crackdown by Macau’s Judiciary Police Thursday. The police briefing also revealed the websites were set up to use several local servers located at a third-party rented from a Macau telecommunication firm data center.
Arrests and Seizure of Evidence
The Judiciary Police in the Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China arrested 4 people believed to be involved in the development, operation and maintenance of the websites and related mobile phone applications.
Branding usually associated with licensed gambling operators in Macau was also fraudulently used by some of the websites in the illegal gambling ring, and online bets, as well as live casino play via video links from Thailand and Cambodia locations were enabled on these websites.
Besides the arrest of 2 Macau and 2 mainland China ID holders, authorities seized from 5 offices located in the city’s ZAPE district and 3 flats in Taipa potential evidence for the illegal operation allegedly conducted under an advertising and design company front.
Police said during the briefing Friday the gambling ring is thought to have been operating since 2016 which enabled the people running it to receive billions of wagers and profited from the illegal operations to the amount of MOP100 million ($12.5 million).
Cooperation with Mainland China Police
The Judiciary Police spokesperson stated that the 4 arrested suspects in Macau were charged with alleged engagement in illegal gambling activities and organized crime. The bust on the illegal gambling ring was made based on intelligence the police received in May by their counterparts in mainland China. Prior to the Thursday operation, the alleged ring leader was apprehended in the Chinese province of Zhuhai.
The hit on the illicit websites last week is the latest in a series of police efforts to crackdown on illegal gambling in the SAR. Macau reported in November a total of 97 websites linked to illicit gambling or fraud have been shut down so far during the year.
Police reported a total of 125 websites being identified for illegal gambling operations but were unable to act against the rest due to their servers being based overseas and hence, beyond the reach of Macau authorities.
On a side note, the Office of the Secretary of Security reported in November a decrease in the levels of gaming-related crime categories for the first 9 months of 2020 compared to the same period the year before, yet illegal gaming was among the few categories which registered an increase.