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Anti-gambling war forces 84 casinos to close
Updated: 2005-01-17 16:01

China's anti-gambling campaign has forced 84 casinos and small gambling houses in the neighboring countries out of business in the past two months, reported the Beijing News on Monday.

The casinos, spread along China's southwestern border with Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, were forced to close down as their business shrunk dramatically in the wake of an intensified fight against gambling carried out by police in Yunnan province since last December.

Chinese gamblers compose the main patrons in these casinos, most of which are even funded and run by Chinese, the paper quoted an unidentified local police official in Yunnan as saying.

Authorities in the neighboring countries have banned their residents from entering these casinos, he added.

With the help of its foreign counterparts, police in Yunnan began to hunt the Chinese casino bosses, cut off banking services, and prevent Chinese gamblers from betting abroad.

Earlier this month Yunnan provincial government reported that 68 casinos in Myanmar and Laos were closed down, 14 others were operating suffering losses, and close to closure, while large number of Chinese staff in the casinos were persuaded to return home.

China has long banned gambling together with prostitution and drugs, but in recent years a growing number of wealthy Chinese, especially some corrupted officials, are gambling away millions in casinos outside Chinese mainland.

Myanmar and some other neighboring countries were popular destinations. Chinese patrons are largely the lifeblood for casino business in these places.

Chinese government last week announced it would launch a "relentless fight" against gambling, with one of the focuses on preventing Chinese from squandering in casinos abroad.

Offices and gambling Web sites set up by foreign companies were shut down, while telephone hotlines and a Web site were set up to report gambling and officials caught gambling abroad would be sacked.

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