South Korea Busts Gambling Ring Worth $3.9B With Strong Ties To China

China recently promised that it was going to dedicate even more resources to target gambling operations in the country. South Korea is helping, dismantling a large organization that reportedly moved around $3.9 billion from South Korea to China.

The Statue of King Sejong in Seoul, South Korea at night. South Korean police dismantled a massive illegal gambling operation this past weekend that was active in China, as well. (Image: Flickr)

Only a month ago, China took down a large illegal gambling ring that reportedly laundered about $6 billion. That was just a small part of what it has dubbed its “100-Day Action” against the gambling sector.

The latest exercise in that initiative primarily operated in South Korea. However, the group’s headquarters was reportedly in China. South Korean authorities arrested a number of locals, with more arrests coming.

Hundreds Face Detention

This past Sunday, Incheon law enforcement carried out a raid of a local illegal gambling property that ended with the arrest of several suspects. The Incheon Metropolitan Police Agency (IMPA) reported that the group targeted South Korean gamblers, but also maintained its servers in China.

The group reportedly made as much as $3.9 billion from its operations. The police arrested 20 people, but more will fall. Authorities are reportedly investigating another 171, some of whom could ultimately face charges.

As with China’s recent crackdowns, it took a long time for the authorities to zero in on the gang’s locations. The IMPA reported that the group had been conducting the illegal operations since at least January 2014, but they always managed to avoid detection.

They stayed hidden by constantly relocating their headquarters from one place to another. Making detection more difficult, the illegal network was also able to freely shift its operations between China and South Korea, which allowed it to stay below the radar.

South Korea allows gambling, but most only for foreigners – the Kangwon Land casino is the exception. The country wants to increase its casino market, although companies that were going to build new properties are having trouble finding the money.

Gambling Crackdown Continues

China has been trying for years to push its anti-gambling views on the rest of the world. It has succeeded in some instances, especially in places like Cambodia and Malaysia.

It has also sought to force countries like the Philippines to follow its command, although it hasn’t had as much luck. The Philippines has stayed true to the gambling industry because of the revenue it provides, although it’s taking action against Philippine Online Gaming Operators (POGO).

This is the result of China’s intervention, but only to a certain point. The licensed POGO market, which has targeted Chinese gamblers, remains intact, while the Philippines works to eradicate illegal companies that claim to be part of the ecosystem.

In addition to its external approach, China is also taking a hard line domestically. It rewards its citizens for turning in others who participate in illegal gambling.

In addition, the country gave those who previously found themselves in trouble an incentive to provide assistance. They can clear their names if they turn in others involved in the activity.

However, the government’s efforts don’t always pay off quickly. As the recent raids show, intervention can sometimes take several years.

China doesn’t want to see any type of gambling in any jurisdiction where it has influence. Now that Chinese citizens freely chose to keep Xi Jinping in power, government officials know what to expect out of the government. This means an even stricter approach, with more raids and arrests coming.

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