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Taiwan May Crack (Down) the Whip in Asia as WellPublished September 28, 2019 by Lee R
With outdated law enabling operators to offer online gambling, Taiwan is heeding China regarding online gambling prohibition.
Taiwan is joining the spreading Asia crackdown.
Taiwan's ban comes in the form of a draft amendment introduced last month to criminalize online gambling and increase penalties on individual gamblers caught breaking the rules.
An amendment to Article 266 of Taiwan's criminal code was published by the Ministry of Justice September 10th criminalizing any Taiwanese citizen who uses “telecommunications equipment, electronic communications, internet or other similar means” with penalties as high as NT$50,000 (approx. $1,612).
The crackdown in Taiwan would only apply at this point to state-run lotteries, the only legal gambling activity in the region to this point.
The Loophole Language
Taiwan's current gambling law states that anyone caught gambling “in a public place or a place open to the public” is required to pay a NT$1,000 (approx. $32) fine, with the public reference predating online gambling when passed in 1994, so that no direct online enforcement legislation existed in the Taiwanese law—until now.
The Ministry of Justice was reportedly spurred to propose the changes on the heels of the overturn on appeal of several court cases that involved individuals caught gambling online, with the Taiwan Supreme Court repeatedly ruling that gambling websites were not considered “public” or “open” spaces under Taiwan’s current law.
How the Loophole has been Exploited
The concern regarding the loophole is it has been exploited by unlicensed online gambling operators to continue targeting Taiwanese nationals, which the Ministry of Justice did not like because of the negative impact on the society that has increased gambling addiction.
The First Salvo
The crackdowns began last week, when authorities busted an online gambling ring in Taichung City earning over NT$21.6b ($700m). Among the arrests were some Chinese nationals, with China concerned that neighboring markets are being used by Chinese operators to offer gambling because of China's mainland prohibition.
Other Neighbours Cracking Down
Cambodia and Philippines are other Asia neighbours that have joined the crack-down campaign, with national licensing body PAGCOR even suspending licenses against the wishes of the President Duterte.
It is understandable that China would be miffed by Chinese nationals circumventing national prohibitions, but pressuring neighbours to change national law still comes off as extreme, in a region where any sign of imperialistic behavior is always going to be resented.