China’s New Criminal Law Creates New Crime Against Cross Border Casinos

China’s new criminal law creates new crime against cross border casinos. An amendment to its criminal law has been passed by China’s National People’s Congress which will, from 1 March 2021, establish a new crime against cross-border casinos found to be organising or asking Chinese citizens to gamble and increase penalties for those found guilty of serious violations.

The amendment, first drafted in October, was adopted last Saturday, according to a study by Chinese state media outlet Xinhua, and explicitly targets anyone who “organises mainland Chinese citizens to gamble outside the country (borders).” 

The penalty for this new crime will match the crime of “opening casinos” in China, which carries a sentence of not more than five years of fixed-term imprisonment, criminal detention, or control, in addition to a fine. In serious circumstances, the person will be sentenced to more than five years but not more than 10 years of fixed-term imprisonment, in addition to a fine.

The original draft law stated, “Whoever operates or manages casinos, or is designated by casinos outside the country, and organizes or solicits Chinese residents to participate in overseas gambling, where the amount involved is large with a serious nature, shall be punished according to provisions under the preceding paragraph.”

While no detailed explanation is contained within the new law as to how it will be implemented, JP Morgan analysts DS Kim and Derek Choi suggested in a note that Macau won’t be excluded from mainland China’s wrath.

“It’s worth noting that the revised law clearly states gambling outside the borders in brackets, not just ‘overseas or foreign gambling’,” they state.

“In our view, this should put an end to the discussion on whether Macau SAR is covered by this law, because ‘outside the borders’ is typically interpreted as being outside Mainland China in the legal context, encompassing the HK and Macau SARs, and Taiwan.”

The law could also strike fear into junkets and their agents, Kim and Choi propose, because “they could be personally liable for the mere organization of a gambling trip under the amended law.”

Passing of this amendment to China’s criminal law comes after the Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced in August that it had established a “blacklist” of overseas tourist destinations it said were disrupting the nation’s outbound tourism market by opening casinos targeting mainland Chinese customers.

The blacklist, devised in conjunction with other departments, would see travel restrictions imposed on Chinese citizens going to certain overseas cities and scenic spots, the Ministry said, although it failed to identify exactly which locations it was referring to.

[image: Kido Dong]

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