China reports 10,000 arrests in gambling crackdown - Tuesday 12th of April 2005

Police carrying out a nationwide anti-gambling crackdown have arrested more than 10,000 people and closed more 400 illegal gambling parlors disguised as recreation centers for the elderly, the government said Saturday.

In the eastern province of Jiangsu, police seized money and gambling equipment worth a total of some 25 million yuan (US$3 million; ?????2.5 million), the government said.

In the northeast, police in Jilin province closed 419 mah-jongg parlors "operating under the shield of recreation centers for the elderly," the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing the national office in charge of the crackdown.

It didn't give any other details of the crackdown in Jilin.

The report Saturday was the latest in a series of updates on the gambling crackdown, which was launched late last year. Communist leaders complain that gambling is fueling official corruption, organized crime and other ills.

Xinhua reported earlier that 15,000 people were arrested in January alone on gambling-related charges. It wasn't clear whether any of those people were included in the newly reported figure of 10,000, which covered only three provinces and one major city.

The government has publicized a series of cases of gamblers arrested for using money embezzled from the government or their companies.

Police in Jiangsu uncovered 77 gangs running gambling rings and detained 7,256 people, Xinhua said.

Arrests also were reported in the major industrial city of Taiyuan in central China, where Xinhua said more than 2,000 gambling sites were raided in January and February.

China has appealed to neighboring countries such as Russia, North Korea and Myanmar to close casinos along their borders that try to attract Chinese gamblers.

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