China and the Philippines have joined forces to tackle illegal gambling, part of Beijing’s broader campaign to curb illicit capital outflows and a pledge by Manila to weed out unscrupulous operators from the country’s booming gaming industry.
The coordinated crackdown comes amid warming ties between Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and his Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has made illegal gambling the third front in his all-out war on crime, after drugs and corruption.
In their first joint exercise, Philippine and Chinese authorities last month cracked a transnational cybergambling operation, shutting four illegal Web sites run out of the Philippines, arresting 99 people and freezing more than 1,000 bank accounts, China’s Public Security Bureau said.
Philippines National Bureau of Investigation cybercrime division chief Martini Cruz told reporters authorities were preparing further raids for this month targeting illegal betting and online fraud originating in the Philippines and targeted at Chinese gamblers.
“We have been visited by Chinese police to crack down on these illegal gambling operators. They are also targeting possible fugitives who have made our country a sanctuary,” Cruz said.
So far, the crackdown has not targeted proxy betting, which is permitted in licensed casinos in the Philippines and has contributed to a boom in VIP revenues. Casinos in the country raked in nearly US$3 billion in overall revenue last year.
The practice, in which a gambler outside the casino gives instructions to an agent via a lives tream or online platform, allows people to bet anonymously and can allow players to escape the attention of authorities in their home countries.
While proxy gambling is banned in Singapore and in Macau, the world’s largest gambling hub, it operates in a legal gray area in the Philippines and officials tend to tread cautiously when discussing the subject.
Chinese law forbids Chinese from gambling online and at home. The Chinese Public Security Bureau has made repeated statements since March that transnational cybergambling is harmful to the country’s economic security, image and stability.
However, proxy betting is growing at such a pace in the Philippines that Suncity, the top junket operator bringing in high rollers from China, last month told reporters that 80 percent of its business comes from proxy gambling and 20 percent from customers traveling to casinos for live table games.
In a VIP area in a Manila casino, Chinese and South Koreans wearing earpieces shuffle from table to table after a series of bets, carrying rectangular white plastic trays containing gaming chips and smartphones.
For now, proxy gambling continues to boost the VIP coffers in the Philippines with mega casinos Solaire and City of Dreams reporting double digit VIP volume growth in the first quarter this year.
The casinos do not report proxy betting figures.
POINT-BLANK RANGE: Reporters and camera people from several outlets say police officers in Minneapolis had fired tear gas and rubber bullets directly at them Multiple journalists on the ground in Minnesota said they were teargassed and subject to other attacks by police on Saturday evening, a day after the widely condemned arrest of a CNN reporter live on air. Los Angeles Times journalist Molly Hennessy-Fiske, who was reporting outside the Fifth Precinct in Minneapolis, said she was with a group of about a dozen journalists when the Minnesota State Patrol “fired tear gas canisters on us at point blank range.” “I was saying: ‘Where do we go?’ They did not tell us where to go. They didn’t direct us. They just fired on us,” she said
For nearly a decade, the UN Security Council has been frequently paralyzed by Russia’s obstinacy over the Syrian crisis. Today, however, it is the US-China rivalry that has infected a growing array of issues, according to officials and diplomats. As recently as 2017, an understanding between Washington and Beijing allowed the UN on three occasions — involving separate sets of economic sanctions — to project international unity in the face of the North Korean nuclear threat. Three years later, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen a ferocious competition erupt between the UN’s two main contributors, prompting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on May
INDIA Pride to be preserved The nation would not let its “pride be hurt” in its latest border flare-ups with China, but is determined to settle the dispute through talks, Minister of Defense Rajnath Singh said in a television interview late on Saturday. “Situations arise with China. It has happened before,” Singh said, adding that the government was striving to make sure “tension does not escalate.” The government has turned down US President Donald Trump’s offer to mediate, he said. IRAN Speaker says talks futile Newly elected Parliament Speaker Mohammad-Bagher Ghalibaf yesterday said that any negotiations with the US would be “futile.” The nation’s
HISTORIC FLIGHT: The astronauts named their capsule ‘Endeavour,’ after the space shuttle on which they both flew, while Elon Musk said he was overcome with emotion Two veteran NASA astronauts headed for the International Space Station (ISS) yesterday after Elon Musk’s SpaceX on Saturday became the first commercial company to launch a rocket carrying humans into orbit, ushering in a new era in space travel. SpaceX’s two-stage Falcon 9 rocket with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard blasted off flawlessly in a cloud of bright orange flames and smoke from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, for a 19-hour voyage to the space station. “Let’s light this candle,” Hurley, the mission commander, told SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne, California, before liftoff at 3:22pm from NASA’s