Southeast Asian countries abandon online casinos under pressure from China.
According to the Xinhua News Agency, Cambodia will not issue new licenses for online casinos and existing licenses will not be renewed further upon expiry. The Philippines also promised not to open a new online casino after a fierce statement from the Chinese Embassy in Manila.
It turns out that Southeast Asian online casinos are in great demand by the Chinese. Legally, casinos can only be played on Chinese territory in Macau. Therefore, for many gambling enthusiasts from China, online casinos are the only chance to try their luck. Absolutely no need for any additional technical means. Through personal computers, players can start online gambling sessions and the bet will be automatically debited from their e-wallet or virtual money will come in case of a win.
Economic reform has ensured stable and rapid growth for the Chinese economy, of course, contributing to improving the living standards of the people. But on the other hand, this growth has created the basis for the phenomenon of “casino culture”, based on the fact that everyone can make money quickly through speculative activities. More and more Chinese people see the rich every day in the media and in real life, their extravagant lives, so they want to get rich quick and easy, rather than the result of a long and hard working process. The problem is that only these ordinary citizens fall victim to “financial pyramids” and fraud scams, because they believe that anyone can win without having enough information.
In fact, Chinese Public Security Minister Zhao Kezhi recently talked about the issue, as Xinhua cited. According to him, it is necessary to solve the problem of cross-border gambling in online casinos as soon as possible. As the Chinese Embassy in Manila noted in its statement, a sharp increase in demand for online gambling among Chinese people led to an increase in crime and social unrest in China.
Another problem is the use of cryptocurrencies, including electronic wallets in online casinos that allow players to hide their identities. And this, in turn, provides opportunities for illegal money laundering and withdrawing activities to take out the country. The most notorious case was the $81 million “evaporation” theft in Bangladesh’s foreign exchange reserves, pulled out via an online casino in the Philippines. As stated by the Chinese Embassy in Manila: China is also concerned that hundreds of millions of yuan are withdrawn annually from the country in online casinos. Moreover, this capital flow out of China is illegal. Firstly, because it is ignoring currency control rules. And second, by law, Chinese citizens living on Chinese territory can only gamble in Macau.
But the question is: why are Southeast Asian countries willing to accept Chinese opinions? It seems that online casinos are a good engine for economic growth. In the Philippines alone, there are more than 50 such companies and their income is nearly 200 million dollars. However, the spread of gambling actually harms the real economy and threatens the social well-being of Southeast Asian citizens, Yang Baoyun, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at Peking University, told Sputnik.