Dongguan's biggest illegal casino raided
More than 90 gamblers, including people from Europe and Southeast Asia, have been arrested in a swoop on Dongguan's biggest underground casino.
In the evening of December 30, more than 500 police officers and 14 armoured vehicles converged on the casino and seized the gamblers. Authorities did not make news of the raid public until Tuesday.
The Guangdong city has earned a reputation as a place where anything goes; its huge prostitution industry has made it the 'sex capital' of the mainland, and gambling has also become a headache for the authorities.
The casino was housed in an innocuous-looking residential building behind a hotel and entertainment venue in Dongkeng township. Spread over two floors, it contained 23 gambling tables, VIP rooms and a kitchen. A sum of between 20 million yuan (HK$23 million) and 30 million yuan was gambled on average each night, the Southern Metropolis News reported.
The report said the owner was closely linked to Hong Kong triads, and the casino was run according to Macau industry standards. Well-trained croupiers from Macau ran the tables, and the casino offered a security service to ensure big winners could transport their money safely.
Underground casinos require the protection of police and officials to operate, and state media reported that Dongkeng's police chief, Ding Shoujun , were dismissed along with his three subordinates.
Residents living nearby said they had for three years repeatedly tried to warn the township police about the den, but no action was taken until a provincial investigation team paid two undercover visits in September.
A former casino worker said the owner, a local resident, had built a relationship with cadres and police at both provincial and city levels. He said police patrolling in the area were often driven away by casino staff.
On average, 200 to 300 people visited the casino each day, mostly gamblers from the Pearl River Delta and Southeast Asia, a gambler said.
He said the owner took a 5 per cent commission from gamblers who won, in addition to regular takings. Casino agents who introduced new gamblers were given a commission of around 2 per cent of the total bet.
'It's common to lose some 300,000 yuan or even a million yuan in just one game,' the gambler said. 'One of my friends was forced to flee to Fujian province last year after losing more than 2 million yuan there.'
Gambling remains illegal on the mainland aside from a small number of state lotteries, and the void is filled by underground casinos across the country.
Dongguan police said yesterday they would continue to clamp down on gambling and other illegal businesses ahead of the Lunar New Year.
In November, the Ministry of Public Security ordered the city to embark on a high-profile crackdown on prostitution. It is estimated the sex trade contributes 20 per cent to 30 per cent of the service industry's total output.
On average, the total bet each night in the illegal casino amounted to, in yuan, between 20 million and: 30m