Posted on: Aug 22, 2018, 6:00 a.m.
Last update on: Aug 22, 2018, 5:20 a.m.
In China – where most gambling is illegal – the government is taking increasingly austere measures to curb popular activity among its citizens. But online gambling in particular is proving to be the most difficult for Chinese authorities to contain.
On Tuesday, Chinese leaders announced their intention to “severely crack down on all forms of illegal business activity, such as private online lotteries and online gambling conducted in the name of lottery tickets,” according to a statement released by the country’s finance ministry.
Twelve departments in total approved the proclamation, indicating that penalties will be more severe for violators than in previous policies.
Companies or individuals who use the Internet to sell lottery tickets in addition to restricting or prohibiting participation in the production and operation of the cooperation of lottery institutions in accordance with regulations, if the circumstances are serious, are classified as serious dishonesty and are included in the National Credit Information Sharing Platform and the National Business Credit Information Advertising System ”, the ad stated.
Gamblers in China often get their fix through one of two state-run lotteries. The proceeds of the so-called “welfare lottery” are used for the benefit of the elderly and disabled population in the country. The sports lottery gives players the opportunity to choose the outcome of professional football competitions, and is the second largest lottery in the world, according to Forbes.
But players are only allowed to purchase their tickets physically. Online ticket sales for China’s social and sports lotteries have been banned since 2015 in order to fight fraud, the government insists.
Bite on Apple
Earlier this month, the government spoke out against tech giant Apple Inc., claiming the company had violated Chinese content bans and accusing the monster tech provider of allowing the distribution of gaming applications through its App Store.
Soon after, Apple removed 25,000 Chinese version gaming apps from its store.
“We have already removed many apps and developers for attempting to distribute illegal gambling apps on our App Store, and we are vigilant in our efforts to find and stop them…” a statement said from Apple.
Continued attempts to control what Chinese citizens can and cannot access on the internet could be a prelude to larger plans the country’s government is developing.
The Economist reported earlier this year that President Xi Jingping wanted to make China a “cyber superpower,” capable of leading the world in artificial intelligence and quantum computing. The report also states that China is home to 202 (35.4%) of the world’s supercomputers.
Ahead of this year’s World Cup, Chinese authorities proactively removed hundreds of gambling sites from the internet. The move prompted punters to migrate to WeChat, a mobile messaging platform hosting one billion monthly users. In response, the government subsequently deleted 50,000 WeChat accounts and 8,000 group chats involved in World Cup betting.