The Supreme People’s Procuratorate of China revealed that, in the first six months of 2021, it prosecuted a total of 46,575 individuals due to gambling-related crimes. The majority of these people (more than 86%) were prosecuted for the establishment of casinos in the country.
In the statement released by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, it was not specified whether the aforementioned casinos were illegal land-based venues or were based online. For the time being, all forms of gambling are illegal in the People’s Republic of China, with the special administrative region of Macau being the only place in the country where casino gambling is permitted. Furthermore, very limited forms of sports betting and online gambling services are allowed in Macau.
As officially revealed by the agency, the number of people, who were prosecuted in China for crimes associated with gambling over the first half of 2021, saw a 27.7% increase from the same period of 2019. The prosecutory body also shared that it skipped making a comparison between the current figures and the ones registered in the first six months of 2020, at the time when the coronavirus pandemic’s alert was at its highest in the country.
Enforcement Bodies in Mainland China Go After Illegal Land-Based and Online Gambling Services
Currently, the promotion of casino gambling, be it in land-based venues or online, is also illegal in China mainland. Direct marketing of gambling services based outside the country is also not allowed within the mainland.
The Supreme People’s Procuratorate said that in full-year 2020, 80,537 people were prosecuted for criminal activity related to gambling in the country. The figure represented a decline from the 86,843 people who were prosecuted for gambling-related harm crimes nationwide in 2019.
In its statement, dated July 25th, the prosecutory agency revealed that the country’s amended criminal code, which was brought into effect on March 1st, 2020, had helped the law-enforcement bodies in China to deal with illegal online gambling activities. The updated criminal code not only criminalizes the promotion and provision of online gambling on the territory of mainland China but also increases penalties for the already existing crime of setting up casino operations in the country.
As revealed in the aforementioned Procuratorate’s statement, since the beginning of March when the latest amendment of the Chinese criminal code came into force two individuals had been prosecuted for organizing participation in gambling outside China. No further information was provided by the agency.
The Supreme People’s Procuratorate of China issued a written commentary of the aforementioned statistics, saying that gambling-related crimes had become increasingly based online and developed in digital formats.
According to the agency, traditional brick-and-mortar casino gambling had been gradually replaced by online gambling services in becoming a main format of crimes. Also, in many cases of such illegal activities, criminals had set the gambling platforms’ servers outside the country in order to evade local judicial units’ investigations. In addition, there were also different forms of luring gambling in the country, with forms of cross-border gambling crimes having become a prominent issue that needed to be tracked continuously.