China’s crackdown of ‘illegal’ online gambling sites gained fresh momentum when the government ordered all state-run telecommunications carriers to block VPN operations within 6 months. The government first announced its crackdown on foreign-based online gambling companies with a 14-month timeline. The new date for the VPN block is set for 1 February 2018.
Ministries Vehemently Opposed to Online Gambling
The Ministry of Industry is determined to stamp out all disordered online activity, to make it increasingly difficult for Chinese citizens to access content that the government deems inappropriate. This includes all internationally licensed gambling sites, social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.), and others. One of the most prominent virtual private network service providers, Green, informed all customers that operations would cease on 1 July 2017.
Similar trends are evident at iOS and Android stores across the board. Beijing currently monitors Internet activity for VPN-enabled content. The Chinese government is especially strict about the type of content that it allows citizens to view. Anything that goes contrary to the government’s wishes is blacklisted. Online gambling is one such sector that is frowned upon.
Chinese Government Implements Operation Chain Break
The Chinese government has centralized control over all online activity, as at 1 June 2017. It includes strict controls over all forms of social media, for the prevention of fraud and terrorism. Additionally, all data storage has to be detailed and approved by the Chinese government. The Public Security Minister has been extremely vocal about his disdain for online and land-based casinos.
China’s tough position on gambling is part of an ongoing initiative with Operation Chain Break. This anti-gambling operation has been targeting internationally licensed and unlicensed operators for approximately 2 years. Like China, Russia also has strict controls in place to ban its citizens from using VPNs to access foreign-based online gambling sites and others. The Russian Duma has already approved the new legislation.
Various Internet gambling companies such as Bet365 have face increasing scrutiny vis-à-vis their operations in China. Recently, Spotlight Research – a short seller – made claims against Bet365 to the effect that it is offering online gambling services to Chinese customers. Bet365 has rebuffed these accusations as baseless claims by a company with ‘self-serving’ interests
Chinese Government Employs 2 Million Internet Police
International online gambling companies are not taking any chances with the impending legislation in China. With 2 million people policing the Internet in China, it is the most pervasive censorship program in the world. Any Internet sites that are considered critical of the PROC (People’s Republic of China) can be blocked. These include all sites that use HTTPS encryption. The government’s policy of a ‘nationwide clean-up of the Internet network access services market’ is being taken seriously by all stakeholders.