Illegal gambling activity in Hong Kong is on the rise during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Well-Off Gamblers Spent Up to US$1.3 million Per Night in the Illegal Penthouse
Police in Hong Kong have arrested 16 people during a raid of a suspected illegal luxury casino this week. The establishment was functioning in a luxurious apartment block in the Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district on the top floor of The Masterpiece, which faces Victoria Harbour and consists of 345 upscale apartments, the Hyatt Regency hotel and K11 shopping center. The gambling hall was located at the high-end residential building with the aim of attracting wealthy gamblers and to avoid police attention.
However, the police detected the illegal gambling activity and started the investigation about a month ago. The forced entrance resulted in the confiscation of about HK$24 million (US$3 million) worth of chips, HK$215,000 (US $27,711) in cash, and 200 sets of playing cards from the operation, local news reports say. There was at least one baccarat table where single bets would start at HK$100,000 (US$12,889), while the unit’s daily turnover reached up to HK$10 million (US$1.3 million) with up to HK$1 million (US$129,000) in profit per night, the South China Morning Post reported.
High-Rollers Enjoyed Whiskey, Wine and Cigars in the Soundproof Duplex
The underground gaming unit spent about HK$130,000 (US$16,756) a month to rent the duplex, which was equipped with a baccarat table on the lower level and a resting area on the second floor, where customers were offered wine, whisky and cigars, Superintendent Alan Chung of the Kowloon West regional crime unit said. In order to conceal the unlawful deeds, the gaming hall was letting in only regular clients and also featured a lookout station on the outside, as well as soundproof walls on the inside. Chung added that for the first time in 20 years, he deals with a case of an illegal gaming house in such a high-end flat.
The Alleged Casino Operator Could Spend Seven Years in Prison if Convicted
The seven men and nine women, including the alleged boss of the penthouse could face charges of operating a gambling establishment, as well as assisting the functioning of an illegal gambling hall or unlawful gambling. The police believe that the casino’s operator has ties to an organized crime gang, known as the “triad” in Hong Kong. The alleged boss might face up to seven years in prison and a fine of HK$5 million (US$644,450).
The number of illegal gambling operations in Hong Kong are on the rise during the Covid-19 pandemic. Back in August, the police launched a two-week raid operation, which led to the arrest of 153 people across 22 unlawful gaming halls.