China Launches I-Gaming Crackdown; Macau Mulls Regulation

26 February 2007

China on Sunday launched a three-month crackdown on Internet gambling, aiming to "purify the cyber environment," according to a statement prepared jointly by several government departments.

Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong and Zhejiang are key places to be supervised, it said, calling on local government departments to strictly monitor online gaming operators who are not allowed to exchange "virtual money" with real currencies or properties.

China's police busted a total of 347,000 gambling cases involving 1.099 million people in 2006 and seized 3.56 billion yuan ($445 million), up from 2005, according to official statistics.

Gambling restriction became a high priority in January 2005 after a senior government official lost over $30,000 in public funds during more than 15 trips to a North Korean casino.

By the end of 2005 a draft bill that would amend the criminal law by increasing the maximum prison term for casino operators from three years to 10 years was submitted to the National People's Congress Standing Committee for a first hearing.

On March 1, 2006, China implemented new Internet regulations in an attempt to limit pornography, spam, viruses, gambling fraud and other undesirable activities. The law bans citizens younger than 18 from Internet cafes, discos and karaoke bars, and prohibits government staff from running entertainment venues.

Gambling was outlawed on the mainland in 1949 when New China was founded. However, casino gambling is legal in Macau, a small territory on the southern coast of China, and remote gambling may soon be. reports that the Macau Gaming Commission today set out policy plans for a new remote licensing regime open to all applicants.

According to the report, Jorge Oliveira, Macau's Commissioner for Gaming, announced at the Pacific Congress on I-gaming (PCIG) a full set of new proposals designed to meet online operator's demands for a licensing jurisdiction in the region. He also proposed an open legal framework for regulating remote gambling in the region.

"These are not features that have yet been passed, but we intend to regulate everyone, anyone who accepts bets, including betting exchanges, will be regulated, and the regime will be open to all," Oliveira said.

Online gambling is currently prohibited in Macau, but a full-scale review of the region's gaming laws is expected to begin next month.

Related Links
Pacific Congress on I-Gaming (PCIG) 2007