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Chinese embassy urges its citizens in Singapore to ‘stay away’ from gambling

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SINGAPORE – The Chinese embassy in Singapore on March 18 asked its citizens in the Republic to “stay away” from gambling, adding that cross-border gambling violates Chinese laws.

The embassy, in a statement on its official WeChat account, “solemnly reminded” Chinese citizens in Singapore to steer clear of gambling, which is strictly prohibited by law in China.

“Even if overseas casinos are opened legally, cross-border gambling by Chinese citizens is suspected of violating the laws of our country and face the risk of punitive actions,” said the embassy, warning that embassies may not be able to provide consular protection for illegal gambling violations.

Using a Chinese idiom to describe how 10 out of 10 bets lead to cheating incidents or losses, the embassy said in its notice that people who gamble face the risk of running up debts, financial ruin and the destruction of their families.

Cross-border gambling may also be related to illegal activities not limited to scams, money laundering, kidnapping and smuggling, the embassy added.

Those who know of Chinese citizens operating casinos overseas or approaching fellow Chinese to gamble were also urged to report it through official reporting platforms or to the Singapore police.

In response to a question from Reuters at a news conference in China, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lin Jian said the country’s position on cross-border gambling is clear, according to Chinese media reports.

He said Chinese capital cannot be invested in overseas casinos, and Chinese citizens are not allowed to run overseas casinos.

Overseas casinos also should not invite Chinese citizens to gamble on their premises, he added.

The Straits Times has contacted the Chinese embassy, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa for comment.

Apart from state-sanctioned lotteries, gambling is banned in China. But that has prompted organisations such as the Guangdong Club, which operates an online gambling platform, to register itself overseas in Costa Rica.

Special administrative region Macau is the only part of China where gambling activities are legal.

China, through its embassies, has previously reminded its citizens in countries including Malaysia, Italy, Angola, Sri Lanka and South Korea that travelling abroad to gamble is illegal.

China has been working with countries in South-east Asia to deter cross-border gambling.

In September 2023, six Asean member nations – Malaysia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines – signed an agreement to collaborate on combatting transnational gambling crime in the region.

The agreement notably targeted organised crime groups that have lured thousands of people to work in casinos or scam compounds under the guise of jobs paying lucrative wages.

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