Gargantuan Gambling Group Grabbed in China Xinhua reported that a group headed up by two men from Shantou City in Guangdong, China has been disbanded and the over thousand members are being charged with illegal gambling and entry into the state lottery. The gambling network was primarily online and localized to around 200 sites based from Thai servers. Each of these sites was rented for between 70,000 yen ($590) to 100,000 Yuen ($840) per month. The sheer number of participants was staggering to police, 6,000 of which participated in taking down the group and have been working the case since December of 2014. According to one member of the force this was the largest illegal gambling takedown in the nation’s history. In addition to the over one thousand people being charged, 570 of them have been put on formal detention with fifteen of them being suspected gang leaders. The arrests led to 330 million yen ($53 million) being frozen by the Chinese government. It’s important to note that the only ones arrested were those that actually worked in the gambling ring, many of which were gang members, bankers, and software technicians, not the participants themselves. Those participating in the sites lost around 9 billion yen (over $75 million) in December alone. Parisian Parliament Probes Possible Codified Casinos French law has prohibited casinos in the country since before the turn of the 20th century but many of the laws have since been reduced. In 1907 casinos became permitted in spas and health resorts. The law against casinos was again relaxed in 1920, allowing for casinos to be made in many areas except within 100km of Paris. In 1988 a rare limitation was placed on the laws, limiting the ability to create casinos was allowed in tourist areas with more than 500,000 inhabitants. Now, the Parisian government is considering allowing casinos to operate within the city limits of Paris. One unnamed official stated that eliminating the ban may allow Paris to reap financial benefits stating that “casinos are located in nearly 200 towns in France” and also noted the “substantial tax revenues not only for the state, but also for Paris.” The consideration by the Parisian government comes on the tail of many scandals involving cercles de jeu or gambling clubs in Paris, which are technically legal as they are considered members-only social clubs rather than proper casinos. Due to the lack of regulation of these clubs, fraud and other offenses are commonplace. These instances have led to the forced closure of eight out of the ten gambling clubs in the city. Prior to being shut down, the last two gambling clubs alone netted the city of Paris between 7 and 8 million (between $7.5 million and $8.75 million) euros in annual tax revenue, providing credence to the idea that casinos may bring significant revenue to the city. Jean-Pierre DuPont of the National Assembly of France said that France’s goal should be for “the creation of a legal supply of games” while one senior official of the casino sector asked if the legalization of gambling would “dismantle the Act of 1920 or… create smaller casinos to replace gambling clubs, as in London?” Macau Casinos Not Making Margins It was reported that Macau’s gaming revenue plummeted by 39% from last month, ending February at a meager $2.7 billion. This is the tenth straight month that Macau’s casino revenue has dropped and the seventh straight month that a decline has been in the double digits. This is a far cry from 2013’s record high of $45.2 billion in revenue for the market and significantly worse than even 2014’s numbers, having dropped nearly 50% since last February. According to many financial analysts, 2015 is expected to be the worst month since 2011 for the industry. There are several reasons cited for the decline in the gaming industry. Many believe that the decline in gaming revenue is due to China targeting gang-associated high-end junkets, scaring away smaller, legitimate junkets that attract high rollers. The Chinese government is also discouraging people from bringing money out of China, even to its own autonomous sectors, like Macau and Hong Kong. Finally, a smoking ban in Macau’s casinos also seems to be to blame for the recent decline in attendance. Where is all this missing gambling revenue going? According to the numbers, it appears as if high rollers are going to other countries like the Philippines and South Korea. While the thirty-five casinos which are under six licensed casino operators (several of which are American) aren’t exactly in dire straits, Macau’s tourism board and government seem to be. A five-year plan is currently in the work by Macau’s tourism board to remove its dependence on casinos for revenue.