China Teams Up With ASEAN to Combat Gambling-Related Crime
- Both parties have come up with a regional cooperation roadmap to fight gambling-related crime
- The roadmap sets out a number of actions that must be taken to combat criminal groups
- The signatories acknowledge that the issue has become a growing problem in Southeast Asia
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is joining forces with China in fighting gambling-related crime. Both parties recently signed a “regional cooperation roadmap” that includes several measures aimed at addressing transnational organized crime and trafficking associated with the gambling sector.
The deal, signed in Bangkok, Thailand, and backed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), is the latest bilateral agreement China has entered into as it steps up its campaign against cross-border criminal activities linked to gambling.
Roadmap Proposes 30 Measures to Address Casino-linked Crime
The regional cooperation roadmap specifies 30 actions that ASEAN and China have agreed to undertake to combat crime related to casinos and scam operations.
Among the key measures proposed in the roadmap is to establish a more robust regulatory framework that governs the licensing and operations of those involved in entertainment industries, including casinos, gaming, and online betting. The proposal also covers other establishments and platforms that criminals may use to facilitate transnational organized crime.
Furthermore, the signatories will also invest in improving financial and technological literacy, especially among communities that are common targets for criminal groups linked to casinos and scam operations.
ASEAN and China will establish mechanisms that would allow them to look into the backgrounds of individuals and entities investing in casinos, online platforms, and junket operations, and those conducting business in special economic zones. This is to determine beneficial ownership and assess whether such investors have any links to criminal organizations.
The signatories recognize that gambling-related crime has become a “significant and growing problem in Southeast Asia”, with the perpetrators conducting their illegal activities in several countries, including Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia.
The roadmap states that criminal groups have exploited casino establishments and special economic zone infrastructure in Southeast Asia to establish sophisticated online scam operations. They usually engage in human trafficking and use the victims to carry out criminal acts.
Regional Cooperation Needed to Tackle Gambling-related Crime
Commenting on the new initiative by China and ASEAN members, Jeremy Douglas, UNODC regional representative to Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said countries must cooperate to combat various criminal activities linked to gambling and the ecosystem they exist in.
Douglas’ remarks coincide with the roadmap’s conclusion that a targeted, coordinated, regional approach is required in fighting transnational organized crime associated with casinos and scams.