Taiwan busts $60m Online Gambling Operation

Taiwanese authorities just carried out a massive online gambling raid, which included over 300 police officers raiding 55 locations across the country. 53 people were arrested during the raid of the illegal online gambling operation, which collected NT$2 billion (US$60.5 million) in bets.

By busting this ring, authorities also shut down the Jiu Zhou online casino, which, according to Taiwanese lottery retailers, has a distinct advantage over state-run gaming operations. The Jiu Zhou online casino based its infrastructure in the Philippines, but they made a great deal of money from Taiwanese residents.

The China Post reports that a big reason why Taiwan is so concerned with stopping illegal online gambling right now is because they want to prevent “rogue elements” from influencing the “outcome of elections.” Taiwan’s elections take place on Jan. 16th, when the president and many national-level politicians will be elected.

The operation’s 35-year-old ringleader, Kao Hung-yu, admitted to running the gambling ring. However, he denies offering election bets to his customers. In the meantime, authorities have seized 78 computers to try and figure out if election betting did indeed occur.

If Taiwanese officials are worried about election wagering, they have every right to do so, given that another major online gambling ring was busted last week. Authorities raided 31 locations and took down a ring that had accepted NT$1.4 billion (US$42.4 million) in wagers. In this case, police discovered that the ring was indeed taking bets on the national elections.

Taiwan has traditionally been very against gambling, aside from their state-run lottery. In 2009, they finally passed legislation clearing the way for casinos to be built on the islands of Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu. But at this time, no construction has begun at any of the casino sites. Penghu is trying to speed up the process by holding local voting so their residents can approve or disapprove the casino.

It’s unclear if Taiwan has any future plans to legalize regulate online gaming, like many other countries around the world are doing. However, it definitely appears that they’re not going to allow black-market internet gaming sites in their country, especially while the elections are going on.