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The arena of gaming and gambling is rife with crime and legal action. Right after news came in about two top cops being indicted in a Vietnam gambling ring, we now hear of Chinese police busting a gambling ring in the Zhejiang province.
Contrary to media claims, the recent survey results by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) for 2016 show that the problem gambling rates remained constant. Meanwhile, in the US State of Michigan, in a bid to check illegal gambling and online video gaming, the Lansing City Council has passed a new ordinance that makes all games not approved by the state illegal. The ordinance has in effect also rendered home poker games, illegal, raising eyebrows.
The Ningbo City Police in Zhejiang province of China recently raided a “large-scale” online betting ring that reportedly handled RMB3 Billion (US$439 Million) in wagers over an unspecified period.
The law enforcement authorities were first notified of the ring’s existence from tipoffs received from the public and disgruntled customers back in April. The Fengshua Public Security Bureau began an investigation, which led to several simultaneous raids on the ring’s operations in Zhangzhou, Haishu and Fengua in July, at the time of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
A total of 63 individuals who have been arrested were suspected of involvement with the ring, which includes 14 of the alleged ringleaders, while a further 10 suspects remain at large. The head of the ring was identified to be a man named Dai, however it is still uncertain whether Dai is amongst the ones who have been arrested or if he is still at large.
It has been reported that the police seized RMB2.25 Million in illegal betting profits and froze bank accounts containing an additional RMB5 Million.
The gang’s modus operandi was a classic credit agent structure, with representatives on the ground collecting gambling losses and paying out winnings, while the wagers were placed with an international gambling site.
China’s zero-tolerance policy regarding online gambling has been intensified in the last week after the Ministry of Finance vehemently rejected the lifting of the now three-year old temporary suspension of online lottery sales.
In recent years, problem gambling in UK has been portrayed in the media as a problem of monumental proportions. Numbers however, speak a different story, as do the results of a survey by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).
The UKGC on Thursday released the results of its survey, ‘Gambling behavior in Great Britain 2016’. The survey has collated data from health reports in England, Scotland and Wales to assess gambling participation, frequency and the prevalence of problem gambling.
According to the results, 1.2% of gamblers identified as problem gamblers equaled 0.7% of the overall population. These numbers are equivalent to the numbers in similar surveys that were taken in 2012 and 2015, and match with the figures mentioned in the international markets.
UK tops the developed markets in gaming for having the most legal gaming options. The survey also reported that the overall gambling participation for UK residents aged 16 or older had dropped from 65% in 2012, 63% in 2015 to 57% in 2016. Excluding the gambling numbers on the National Lottery draws, gambling participation reduced from 45% in 2015 to 42% in 2016.
Other notables facts brought forth include a drop in the overall online gambling participation as well as online casino/binge gambling by 1% while the online sports betting participation fell by 1%. The prevalence of problem gambling dropped from 10.6% in 2015 to 9.2% in 2016.
Spread betting has also reduced drastically, according to the survey, from 20.1% in 2015 to 8% in a year’s time. Notably, late in 2016, UK imposed new restrictions on spread betting operators and spread betting firms received a verbal rebuke from the UK regulators. The recent studies indicate the problem gamblers display all sorts of excessive behavior, going far behind gambling.
A new ordinance passed by the Lansing City Council puts the future of poker home games in jeopardy. Aimed to give the city that is part of Michigan, US more power to crack down on gambling, the ordinance was approved by an overwhelming 7-to-1 vote. It brings forms of gambling that are not given state approval under the purview of criminal offence.
While the ordinance doesn’t specifically mention home poker games, it sweepingly bans all non state-approved games and this will legally arm the law enforcement to take action against any private, residential poker games found being played.
Fourth ward Council member Brian Jackson echoed this. While the ordinance allowed the police to thwart illegal video gambling, he said, it is far too expansive. “The intent is one thing, but that doesn’t stop a future police chief from reading the plain language and concluding that it’s illegal to have a card game at grandma’s house,” Jackson added.
The prohibition doesn’t apply to arcade games involving non-cash prizes. Currently, forms of gambling legally permitted in Michigan that happen in Lansing include the charity gaming events and the lottery. There’s no legal casino operational in the city, unlike the rest of the state.
Since the ordinance has already gone into effect, gambling not sanctioned by the state carries with it the risk of a misdemeanor charge, punishable with up to three months in jail and a fine up to $500.