Guangdong party and government officials have been banned from gambling trips to Macau and overseas destinations. Gambling is banned on the mainland but is widespread, especially in small gatherings for poker and mahjong games. A blind eye is usually turned to officials heading to Macau to gamble if they are using their own funds on their own time. A 1994 regulation warned of penalties for officials who engaged in taking drugs, gambling and prostitution. But the Government has admitted it has not been very successful in curbing the vice. So a new rule threatens tougher penalties against miscreants. The rule, brought in by the Communist Party's Disciplinary Inspection Committee in Guangdong and the provincial Government's prosecutor's office, is intended to root out graft. According to a government announcement, 1,025 party members and officials had been investigated during the past three years for gambling-related corruption. Of them, 662 have been given party disciplinary sanctions, 29 stripped of their party positions, 133 expelled from the party and 62 sacked. Punishment under the new regime will range from disciplinary actions within the party to being stripped of party membership and positions. For those who operate a gambling business, lend to gamblers, use public or company money to gamble, give protection to gamblers, tip-offs of a crackdown or use work time to gamble, the sanctions are more severe. Those who gamble overseas will be given shuanggui immediately on their return, meaning they must make themselves available for questioning by graft investigators. But a party cadre in Humen said gambling would be difficult to eradicate. 'Nobody will report on anybody,' he said. 'It may go underground for a while. But it won't go away.' He said it was not unusual for officials and businessmen to gather together to throw away a million yuan in one night in the city.