Crack down on casinos

(China Daily)
Updated: 2007-04-16 06:44

Easy money easily lost is evidenced by the natural connection between corruption and gambling. The connection explains why foreign casinos have mushroomed near the country's borders in the past couple of years. Their clients of choice are Chinese gamblers, corrupt officials in particular, who gamble away public money.

Fortunately, crackdowns last year on illegal activities to attract Chinese to these casinos paid off. The number of such casinos dropped from 149 to 28 in 2005.

A total of 247,000 cases involving illegal gambling activities were cracked nationwide from January to November last year, with 2.56 billion yuan ($316 million) seized. The number of people involved is estimated at more than 1 million.

These casinos establish offices, networks and Internet portals to solicit Chinese business people and officials.

With more Chinese traveling overseas in the name of tourism to gamble, large sums of money, much of it embezzled by corrupt officials, flies abroad to these casinos.

As a result, such venues have become places for crimes ranging from blackmailing and kidnapping to drug abuse.

What is worse is these casinos have exacerbated corruption in China. Officials who lost money have resorted to more embezzlement and acceptance of bribes to pay their debts.

Some self-employed business people have taken their own lives after losing their fortunes in these casinos. Others were held hostage when they could not pay their debts.

The existence of such casinos poses a threat to the economic development and social progress of our country.

More efforts are needed to prevent government officials and leaders of State-owned enterprises from transferring public money overseas for their gambling.

Those addicted to gambling also need to be made aware of the consequences.

(China Daily 04/16/2007 page4)

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