Within the past month, several countries have taken huge steps towards ridding themselves of illegal online gambling operations. The sudden crackdown was inspired by the negative side effects of such operations.
Officials in Malaysia, which shut down a major gambling ring in December, believe that illegal gambling has created a plethora of social issues within their country. Country officials also say that illegal gambling has grown massively over the past year.
Common criminal activities associated with illegal gambling operations that doesn’t accompany legal online gambling sites include money laundering, gang activity, drugs, and human trafficking.
Malaysia and Taiwan shut down major online gambling operations
Both Malaysia and Taiwan have hit illegal gambling operations hard. A mid-December Malaysian raid produced 112 arrests and seized a large quantity of computer equipment and several thousand dollars.
During a press conference, Seri Alam Police Assistant Commander Abdul Samad Sellah informed the public about the raids:
“The workers and gamblers detained, aged between 19 years and 63 years old, are being investigated under Section 4B(a) of the Common Gambling Act 1953.”
To deal with the illegal gambling problem, Malaysia created the Special Task Force for Anti-Vice, Gaming and Gangsterism, or STAGG. It is a federal police unit with 200 members which will specifically target these problematic operations. Within the past year over 20,000 arrests have been made during raids in Malaysia.
The Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission took steps to block more than 300 online gambling websites after they were alerted of the illegal operations. The law justifying these raids is the Prevention of Crime Act, a 1953 bill that originally targeted individuals illegally open carrying weapons. Legislation has begun to amend Malaysian law to cater more towards illegal online gambling.
On January 5, Taiwanese police raided 55 illegal online gambling locations across Taiwan. Three hundred Taiwanese policemen were involved in shutting down the locations which were operating as Jiu Zhou Casino. These locations offered online gaming to patrons via computers running software by Jiu Zhou Technologies International, which is licensed in the Philippines.
The extent of the link between the illegally operating locations and the software provider is as of yet somewhat unclear. Taiwanese legal lottery retailers commonly use lottery software from Jiu Zhou Technologies.
The raid puts an end to what Taiwanese police believe is the largest online gambling ring in the country’s history. Alleged ring leader Kao Hung-yu and 52 other suspects were arrested for their involvement, and over NT$2 billion (about $60.5m USD) in bets were seized.
Lithuania vows to avoid a similar situation
Earlier this January, the Lithuanian Gaming Control Authority announced several major changes to the country’s online gambling laws. Gaming Control Authority director Virginijus Dauksys also publicly expressed that he will be more active in the pursuit of illegal operations, vowing to prosecute anyone involved with them.
The main changes involve Lithuanian banking regulations. The Gaming Control Authority will now be able to take action against banks who knowingly process transactions between illegal operations and their customers. This is a similar approach to federal laws in the United States.
The Authority is also now able to force networks, service providers, and hosting services to block user access to illegal online gambling. The government adopted these regulations in hopes of deterring online gambling companies from continuing their operations.
Illegal online gambling is a global problem for a reason: without the safeguards put in place at legal online gambling sites, consumers will always be at risk.