China Amends Criminal Law to include Charges Against Gambling Trip Organizers

Criminal Law in China has been amended to allow courts to send people to prison if they are charged and found guilty of organizing trips for residents to gamble abroad. A measure was approved recently by the National People’s Congress to make the change.

On March 1, 2021, anyone who is arrested and found guilty of organizing trips overseas for gambling will be sent to prison for up to 10 years. The penalty applies not only to citizens but also foreigners. The maximum penalty of 10 years will be reserved for those who are serious violators of the law, when large amounts of money are involved in the tours.

The change is likely to have a serious impact on Macau, which relies on junket operators to bring players into the region. Macau is a large gambling city and is a Special Administrative Region of China. Macau has its own laws, but it is operational under a one country, two systems set up.

In China, all forms of gambling are banned on the mainland. The only exception is the lottery, which is operated by the government. VIP junket groups located in Macau are not legally allowed to market services in the country.

The new amendment to the Criminal Law does not state if Macau is included in the change. It does not reflect if Macau is considered to be outside of China’s borders. The term outside the borders, as used in the amendment, could mean activities that are conducted in areas that have the Special Administrative Region label, like Macau or even Taiwan and Hong Kong.

If it does include such regions, Macau would be hit hard by the lack of junket operations coming from China. The junkets would be unable to organize trips for big spenders from the nearby mainland, which is big business for the region.

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