Hong Kong Police Busts an Illegal Gambling Ring
May 12th, 2020 1.00pm
Hong Kong Police has recently carried out a well-planned raid on an illegal gambling ring operated by a local syndicate. According to available information, this illicit operation offered its players a wide range of services – from online Poker and Blackjack to dice games on its unlicensed online website.
Under the provision of the existing law, the only legal provider of betting and gaming services in this Chinese special autonomous region is the Hong Kong Jockey Club, an operators owned and operated by the state. The state also has a monopoly on all forms of sports betting, including horse races and state lotteries.
An Illegal Gambling Ring Worth Several Million
Following the raid that was carried out by the local law enforcement agency, a number of individuals were taken into custody, including all of the 17 key figures involved in this illegal gambling ring. The investigators revealed that the criminal organisation used a foreign-based online gaming and sports betting site to offer its services to players.
The website was up and running for around 14 months, helping the organisation earn around £14 million during that period.
The authorities also announced that during the raid, which was conducted as a part of the operation Deepskill, the police had succeeded in confiscating plenty of evidence to put away the members of the organisation for good. This myriad of evidence included laptops, but also smartphones and credit cards.
All of the suspects – 9 male and 8 female – were questioned by the local police.
If the evidence, confiscated during the bust, helps the authorities prove the guilt of the arrested individuals, you could receive a sentence of up to 7 years in one of Hong Kong’s prisons. If the charges include money laundering, the could face up to 14 years behind bars! Illicit sports betting carries the same penalty. In addition to a prison sentence, the arrested members of the organisation that ran the illegal gambling ring could each pay a fine of around £530,000.
How Did the Organisation Operate?
The police operation also fully uncovered the was the syndicate operated. The organisation used the assistance of those bookmakers willing to direct bettor to a foreign-based online gambling website. To avoid the scrutiny of the Hong Kong’s authorities, the website – or its server, to be more precise – would change its address from time to time, moving between Europe and North America, and staying undetected by the region’s cyber police.
Bookmakers working for the criminal organisation represented an important part of the whole mechanism, as they were tasked with recruiting gamblers and bettors willing to join the website. A significant number of new customers was found on various social media platforms, while some were lured to the scheme using personal referrals.
After a new customer was recruited, the bookies would then help them set up an account linked to the foreign-operated website we’ve mentioned earlier. The bookies themselves managed to stay undetected during the process, moving their money through several different accounts before actually withdrawing it – a textbook example of money laundering.
According to the information provided by the Hong Kong Narcotics Bureau’s Financial Investigation Unit, the illicit online gambling operation had started back in December 2017, with sources saying the syndicate has managed to draw thousands of players from Hong Kong since its inception.
The latest bust comes only a couple of months after the authorities put an end to another illicit gambling operation in the city. In March, Hong Kong police busted an illegal casino ring that included arcade machines to its clients.
State-owned Jockey Club is the only legal provider of betting and gaming services in Hong Kong.