Two locals and two mainlanders were arrested on Thursday for setting up Macao’s first gambling website data centre, Judiciary Police (PJ) spokesman Ho Chan Nam said at a special press conference on Friday.
According to Ho, the suspects were members of a gang that was run by a family. The kingpin, a local man surnamed Lao, was arrested early this year in Zhuhai.
The four suspects arrested in Macao last week are a 72-year-old local woman surnamed Choi, who is Lao’s mother and told the police that she is a company shareholder; a 46-year-old local female surnamed Lao, who is Lao’s younger sister and who told the police that she is a businesswoman; a 31-year-old jobless mainland woman surnamed Sun who is Lao’s wife; and a 38-year-old male mainlander surnamed Zhu who is a non-resident worker employed by a technology company.
According to Ho, the Judiciary Police discovered in their investigation that the family-run gang had set up a data centre and a base for the development of gambling websites and mobile apps in Macao. The Judiciary Police believe the gang made a monthly profit of at least 100 million patacas, Ho said.
According to Ho, the Judiciary Police (PJ) received intelligence in May from the mainland’s Public Security Bureau (PSB) that a gang in Macao was involved in the development of overseas casinos and the setting-up and running of online casinos and smartphone gambling apps.
PJ officers launched an investigation that identified the alleged gang members. On Wednesday afternoon, PJ officers searched five companies located in a commercial building in Nape and three residential flats in Taipa and arrested the four suspects. The suspects refused to cooperate with the police.
However, the officers discovered a large number of online gambling websites and programme development data at the companies involved and seized more than a dozen computers and a server used for online gambling. Ho said the network system was connecting to more than a dozen local and overseas data centres and servers.
According to Ho, at least 10 servers were set up in data centres provided by local telecom operators, and the data centres provided data access for at least 40 gambling websites. The officers also discovered that several of the gambling websites ran short videos to teach players how to gamble online.
Ho said the gang had set up technology and advertising design companies in Macao and Zhuhai and pretended to be engaged in a technology business but actually was developing illegal online casino websites and apps.
The data centres leased from local telecom operators were set up to manage the gang’s gambling websites and to assist in the setting-up of gambling websites in Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Cambodia.
According to Ho, the Judiciary Police believe that the gang had been in operation for four years and that its illegal online gambling operations even used live broadcasts in countries such as Cambodia, the Philippines and Thailand. The betting turnover reached billions of patacas. Ho said the police were continuing their investigations into the gambling websites and apps including whether they were involved in online investment fraud and other wrongdoings.
The quartet was transferred to the Public Prosecutions Office (MP) on Friday, facing illegal gambling and organised crime charges, according to Ho.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macao News)
Photo by The Macau Post Daily/Iong Tat Choi