In a series of illegal gambling den raids across Hong kong over the weekend, the law enforcers arrested 267 people. According to reports by Sing Tao Daily,Hong Kong’s second largest newspaper, over 700 personnel from Police Force’s Organized Crime & Triad Bureau and Immigration Department were involved in executing the massive raids in Yuen Long, the New Territories, and Kowloon’s Yau Ma Tei and Sham Shui Po. A total of 40 illegal gaming dens were busted and of the 267 arrested there are 226 men and 46 women. Also, 80 of 267 arrested are not of Chinese descent.
Apart from a significant number of arrests the officers also seized 440 electronic gaming machines, 23 card reading machines, 584 reward points cards, HK$900,000 in cash (US$114,654) and illegal drugs including cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana.
According to the Hong Kong police, with the confiscated gaming machines, estimated revenue of up to HK$10 million (US$1.27 million) could be created in a month. The planning for the massive raids was underway for over six months. The officers had already identified the spots which they were to raid during the weekend. As a part of the process, some police officers had posed as gamblers and visited these illegal outfits.
The entire operation was executed with high secrecy. The undercover cops reported that the illegal gambling dens had middlemen who coaxed players to purchase a card as they entered the facility. Also, the entire setup in different locations was controlled by gambling syndicates operating in Hong Kong.
The bureau sent undercover officers posing as gamblers to the gaming centres to collect intelligence six months ago.
A triad society had reportedly lined up game center licensees to operate the illegal gambling dens. Gamblers had to buy cards which recorded their scores before playing the machines.
Go-betweens lured customers to the game center, persuaded them to buy the cards and assisted them to exchange game points for cash, which is illegal.The gambling syndicate controlling the centres would take around 10% to 20% commission from the exchanged amount while the middlemen could earn a basic salary of HK$4,000 to HK$5,000 a month, plus commission.