Aside from being a toy that entertains children and adults alike, the iconic yellow rubber duck now has a new function: as a lucky charm for gamblers.
The Jhunglu Branch (中路) of the Taoyuan County Police Bureau said that it discovered that the bathtime toys were being used as charms when it raided a gambling video center on Chenggung Road yesterday, arresting two men alleged to have managed the center and several customers.
Police officers posing as a couple interested in gambling contacted a man surnamed Cheng (鄭) to inquire about the center. Cheng agreed to meet the couple and take them to the gambling den.
Another man, surnamed Huang (黃), met the couple at the center and explained to them how to pay to gamble there. It was then that the undercover officers noticed nine duckies arranged in a triangle on a table, each with the Chinese character zhao (招) painted on their chest and a number on their head. Zhao means “to attract” or “to bring in” in Chinese.
Huang told the couple that the rubber toys are becoming increasingly popular as good luck tokens, so the center’s management had decided to put nine of them on display to boost their customers’ fortunes.
Huang also said that some customers believe that having a duck nearby would help them suppress the gambling machines so they could win, because the Chinese word for “duck” sounds exactly the same as another Chinese word that means “to suppress” (壓).
The rubber duckies were in high demand, with the ones numbered five, six and eight the most popular because “five” is a homonym for “to have” (有) in Hoklo — commonly known as Taiwanese— while six and eight are considered to be lucky numbers, he told the officers.
When he noticed that the police were outside, Huang asked the six gamblers in the center to move to another room and hid the gambling machines’ circuit boards in the ceiling, police said. He asked the customers to say that they were there to drink tea if the officers outside came in to search the place, the couple said.
The undercover policewoman then opened the door and her colleagues raided the center, confiscating 20 gambling machines and about NT$10,000.
The case is being handled by the Taoyuan District Prosecutors’ Office, which will probe charges of illegal gambling.