The Vietnamese police have been successful at shutting down an online gambling operation that was believed to be around $60 billion in size. Started and run by a Chinese national named Zhou, the online gambling site had become very popular by catering to the growing needs of gamblers from Mainland China.
Zhou has been in the sights of law enforcement authorities in China and Vietnam for quite some time now since the size and reach of his gambling business made it very difficult to hide. The online gambling business had been set up in 2011 with an investment of 400 billion yuan, the equivalent of $61.77 billion. It had managed to rake in profits worth $89.6 million by the time of the police crackdown.
The authorities in China have been trying to arrest Zhou for some time now but the 47 year old native of China’s Zhejiang province fled from the country before they could close in on him. He was believed to be in Vietnam, safe out of the reach of the Chinese. As a matter of fact, the International Criminal Police Organization (popularly known as Interpol) had also issued a red notice for him in 2014.
The Chinese Ministry of Public Security had requested its Vietnamese counterpart to help nab the illegal gambling operator. A joint operation conducted by Chinese and Vietnamese police officials was able to narrow down Zhou’s location to Hanoi and he was arrested when he was dining at a restaurant there. He was then deported to Mainland China to face the music there.
Gambling is considered to be a major offence in China and the government follows a zero tolerance policy towards it. However, citizens of the country are inordinately fond of gambling and they visit online gambling sites to get their fill of thrills. The Chinese government also considers prostitution to be another vice that has to be clamped down on. Authorities in China constantly monitor entertainment venues in the country such as bath houses, clubs and massage parlours because these are the places most likely to offer sex or gambling services.
The Chinese government’s crackdown on gambling and other vices has been going on since 2011, but the demand for these services is so high that many people continue to offer them disregarding the risks. As a matter of fact, there are many online gambling operations catering to Chinese nationals but run from sites hosted in other countries. Furthermore, so many Chinese nationals travel to neighbouring countries in order to gamble at land-based establishments there that the gambling casinos employ large numbers of Chinese staff.
In related news, the Chinese police pulled the plug on a network of Hongbao gamblers also operating in the Zhejiang province. These people used to gamble using Wechat’s Hongbao option. Hongbao refers to the red envelopes that the Chinese gift cash in for auspicious occasions. The Hongbao gambing ring had managed to accumulate a few hundred people, with the organizers collecting a percentage of the contents of the envelopes.