New rules target ordinary citizens, not just cadres The central government has stepped up its fight against gambling and spelled out new regulations covering the public, after earlier in the year targeting cadres. Under the new regulations, any betting for the purpose of financial gain, including online casinos and video-game gambling, is defined as a 'gambling-related activity'. The rules were issued by the anti-gambling office under the Ministry of Public Security, Xinhua reported. However, 'small wagers between family members or friends for pleasure' on games such as poker and mahjong will not be punished. Serious offenders can be punished through 'labour-camp education' or even face criminal charges. In minor cases, offenders can be detained immediately for less than 15 days and fined up to 3,000 yuan. Cases categorised as 'deserving hardline treatment' include gambling in the workplace and in public places such as parks and trains, repeat offences, coaxing underaged people to gamble illegally, and organising visits by Chinese nationals to overseas casinos, the article said. The broad regulations target not only owners of gambling businesses and participants, but those who facilitate gambling through funding assistance, financial investment and infrastructure support, such as providing arenas, transportation and communication. As for online betting, those who provide internet access and server applications to gaming websites are also covered. Any unauthorised lottery operation is also illegal and subject to legal action, Xinhua said. In a year of cracking down on gambling, the Communist Party kicked off an internal campaign in January before the Lunar New Year, warning all cadres that those caught gambling during the holidays would be sacked immediately. The tough line followed a range of high-profile cases involving government officials who were placed under investigation or sentenced to lengthy prison terms for gambling away millions in public funds. Gambling provides an easy way into taking bribes, embezzlement and abuse of state assets, and has become the new battleground of China's fight against corruption, Xinhua said. Afterwards, the authorities turned their focus to online gambling as the number of visitors to betting websites has risen sharply. The Ministry of Public Security branded online betting one of the main gambling activities 'that have plagued the country and had a devastating impact'. In the first seven months of the year, more than 160,000 cases have been investigated and 720,000 people have been arrested.