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Cops wage high stakes war on gambling
(Xinhua/China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-17 23:51

Gamblers will remain under a police hammer in the next five months, the Ministry of Public Security said Monday in Beijing.

The central government has set up a special team to deal with the problem across the nation, with the issue regarded as a cradle of corruption.

Officials from such departments as foreign affairs, tourism, education, customs, telecom, finance, as well as those from the Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate are members of the team.

Overseas casinos and their acting agencies in China will be target of the crackdown, according to the ministry.

Party and government officials, as well as entrepreneurs of State-owned enterprises, are not allowed to take part in gambling activities. Violaters will be severely punished.

The anti-gambling campaign so far has forced 84 casinos and small gambling houses in neighbouring countries to go out of business over the past two months, the Beijing News reported Monday.

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

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 neighbouring countries have banned their residents from entering the 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, the 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 corrupt officials, have gambled away millions in casinos outside the Chinese mainland.

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

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