Public security organs will continue to crack down on gambling in rural areas and improve oversight to prevent such crimes, an official with the Ministry of Public Security said on Wednesday.
During the past six months, police dealt with 10,000 criminal cases and 75,000 administrative cases related to gambling in rural areas, and confiscated 740 million yuan ($104 million) in related funds as part of a nationwide crackdown, according to the ministry.
In November, the ministry launched an operation targeting gambling in rural areas. As a result, the number of reports received related to gambling has decreased by 23.1 percent, said Qi Xiguo, an official with the ministry's public security administration bureau.
Qi said that those engaged in gambling often have previous convictions or are unemployed, and account for about 60 percent of the cases handled so far.
Gambling gangs often set up mobile casinos in remote mountain areas, abandoned factories, on farms and in interprovincial, intercity and intercounty border zones where supervision is lacking, Qi said. The casinos operate with a clear division of labor between those engaged in site selection, debt collection and guard duty.
During the operation, nearly a quarter of the criminal cases were related to mobile casinos operating across counties and districts, according to the ministry.
"There are around 100 forms of gambling in rural areas. In recent years, online gambling has also become popular, as it is more widely available and is more attractive," he said.
In one case released by the ministry, in April this year, police in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, busted a gang that set up cross-regional mobile casinos. The bust led to the capture of 97 suspects and the seizure of more than 24 million yuan.
The gang's ringleaders hired workers to operate and guard the casinos, and five key members had set up branches of the gambling dens.
The organizer and shareholders hid behind the scenes, ordering followers to choose mountains and wild areas to set up the venues to attract villagers in Guangzhou, Foshan, Dongguan, Zhongshan and other places in Guangdong to gamble. They also arranged for workers to monitor the scenes inside and outside of each casino, and offered high-interest loans to gamblers.
Qi said that casinos also create problems including competition among gamblers, disputes and debts, which often lead to involvement of gang crimes and security issues.
To keep abreast of gambling trends, the ministry has created a monitoring mechanism, setting up regular monitoring stations in 101 districts and counties across the country, he said.
Qi said that as these crimes persist, public security organs will make full use of the mechanism to push forward comprehensive governance in rural areas.
"We will explore loopholes and weak links in rural governance, and improve the public security system," he said.