A Hong Kong illegal gaming racket, which obtained $1.8 million from eight gambling dens in just a half year, was broken up by local police in a series of recent raids, police revealed. Three ringleaders and 26 other suspects were arrested as of Monday and more arrests are possible, news reports add.
The illicit operation used arcade-type machines in underground casinos for betting, according to the South China Morning Post. During the searches, police seized 18 arcade-type machines and shuttered the gambling dens.
Detectives also claim the illegal operation was run by suspects who are from China’s Hunan Province. The command center was in Mong Kok.
Two of the ringleaders were 39 and 41-year-old men who were arrested in the command center on Sunday. Police also seized money, extendable batons, and baseball bats at the command center.
On Monday, police arrested the third ringleader. He is a 40-year-old man.
Inside the gambling dens were found the arcade machines which ran fishing games that were used for betting games, the news report said. Gamblers had to purchase cards to record their scores, the report added.
Jackpots, Free Food, Drinks Lured Players
Points were exchanged for cash, according to police. Gamblers were also treated to free drinks and food at the different venues.
“Like slot machines, a jackpot was given out regularly to attract gamblers to keep playing,” an unnamed source further explained to the newspaper. The gambling dens were lucrative, with a nightly profit at each one of about $1,300. The gaming dens were in Mong Kok and Sham Shui Po.
“To avoid detection, the money was transferred into their bank accounts on the mainland via money changers,” an unnamed source revealed to the Morning Post.
Police today were investigating the bank accounts associated with the suspects. Police may be able to seize more ill-gotten money and arrest even more suspects, the Morning Post added.
Police allege most of the players had ties to the “underworld,” the Morning Post claimed, based on statements from officials. The players included suspected drug traffickers, as well as members of triads, police sources told the newspaper.
A triad is a transnational organized crime syndicate based in China, the report explained.
Before the raids, police conducted an extensive inquiry into the gambling ring to gather evidence and locate ringleaders, the news report said.
The raids began on Sunday and involved special duty officers and officers assigned to the anti-triad unit of Sham Shui Po district.
Ringleaders Face 14-Year Sentence
The three ringleaders were charged with operating illegal gambling establishments and money laundering, the newspaper reported. If convicted, money laundering could result in as much as 14 years in prison.
The suspects each could also face $645,025 in fines if they are convicted.
In an unrelated matter, Kazuo Okada, one of the co-founders of Wynn Resorts, was arrested in 2018 in Hong Kong on “corruption-related offenses,” according to a filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange by Universal Entertainment. Last year, he was released unconditionally by Hong Kong’s anti-corruption agency.