It’s no secret that gambling operators highly favor the lucrative Chinese market and its VIP gambling segment which are happy to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars at the casino on a regular basis. Macau, the biggest gambling hub in the world thrived for a number of years on attracting these VIP gamblers from Mainland China to its casinos before a 2014 anti-corruption crackdown launched by Beijing scared away high-rollers.
A number of other countries wanted to profit from Macau’s casino industry collapse by attracting these VIP gamblers to their casinos. The Philippines, South Korea, Vietnam, Singapore and Cambodia were some of the neighboring countries that sought out gamblers from Mainland China and were successful to a certain extent. The governments in these countries are generally happy to welcome tourists from Mainland China and encourage the casino industry as it not only boosts tourism and employment in the country but also generates a major amount of revenue in the form of gambling taxes.
However there has always been a concern in just about every country about the negative impact that the gambling industry can have on their society. Apart from problem gambling, one of the biggest concerns is the rise of criminal activities as there have always been mafia ties to the casino industry for a number of years. Recent arrests made in Cambodia involving citizens from Mainland China and their ties to the gambling industry have once again proved that the mafia is heavily involved in gambling.
Cambodian authorities announced this week that they had arrested a casino owner along with four Chinese nationals who were part of the mafia and remanded them to custody. The group was arrested for kidnapping three Chinese nationals who allegedly owed the casino over $1.22 million which they incurred in gambling debts. The three kidnapped Chinese nationals are 30 year old Zhan Qian Qiang, 46 year old Liu Junshen and 51 year old Zhun Xiao Liang who played at a casino located in Poipet City. The authorities state that Qiang had taken a credit of $150,000, Junshen availed credit of $300,000 and Liang was given credit of up to $770,000.
When the three gamblers delayed in paying back their debt, the casino owner Ding Chunyaun decided to turn up the pressure by hiring Hao Boshi, Zhang Janwen and Zhang Xiaofei to kidnap and threaten the three Chinese gamblers in order to get them to pay back their debts quickly. The gang had ties to the mafia and went ahead with the plan locking up the three gamblers outside an apartment near the casino before sending photographs and text messages to their family back in Mainland China threatening them with dire consequences if the money wasn’t paid back quickly.
The three gamblers plotted an escaped and intended to go to Phnom Penh and seek the help of the Chinese embassy. However only one of them managed to escape and went on to inform the authorities of the kidnapping. On hearing of the escape, the casino owner decided to hand the other two gamblers to Cambodia’s military police.
The military police identified the casino owner Ding Chunyaun as the leader of the gang and stated that they were a gambling mafia that had kidnapped Chinese nationals and other foreigners in the past. All four have been accused of kidnapping, withholding the passports of the Chinese gamblers and illegally detaining them.
There have been reports in the past of the Chinese mafia working closely with the gambling industry by encouraging high-rollers to gamble and offering them a high level of credit. The mafia lends out this money at a high rate of interest and will often take collateral in the form of fixed assets. Gamblers often get themselves into trouble when they find that they can no longer pay the interest or repay the full amount within the stipulated period and can often put their own lives and the lives of their family in danger.
There have also been reports in the past that sometimes the mafia is willing to overlook the debit provided the gambler is willing to comply with a few favors – which can be anything from being a drug mule on an international assignment, growing marijuana in their homes or using their influence for favors with the authorities.

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