China launches new anti-internet gambling drive

Banks and websites to be targeted, in sustained multi-ministry assault

China, already notorious for its government prosecution of online gambling activity, has launched a new anti-Internet gambling drive supported by several collaborating ministeries.

The drive is planned to take place between this (February) month and August 2010 and will include crackdowns on the activities of banks and websites "supporting" the pastime, according to a Ministry of Public Security statement posted on the department's website this week.

The campaign will "concentrate on investigating major and important cases of online gambling, knock out domestic and foreign groups that organise online gambling, and severely punish the criminal elements involved," the statement warned. It added that enfporcement measures will severely punish those who run underground banks, along with third-party payment platforms that provide banking services needed for gambling; website operators will also be targeted.

Eight different government departments will be cooperating in the latest clampdown, including the Supreme Court, the Bureau for Propaganda, the Central Bank and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

With the exception of two state lotteries, gambling has officially been banned in China since 1949, reports the Reuters news agency, which points out that unauthorised operators have sprung up to meet the public demand for gambling.

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