he National Congress is reviewing a proposal to establish a new crime definition for overseas gambling operations aimed at luring Chinese citizens.

A new crime for organizing and soliciting by casinos abroad would be established, the state-owned news agency China News Service reported. Penalties for establishing casino operations within the mainland would also be increased, although the report does not specify the proposed penalties.

The Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, started its 22nd session on Tuesday to review multiple draft laws and law revisions, including draft amendments to the National Flag Law and the National Emblem Law, a draft amendment to the Criminal Law and a draft revision to the Administrative Penalty Law

During the five-day session, lawmakers will also review draft laws on matters as diverse as biosecurity, export control, Yangtze River conservation, veterans support, personal information protection, and coast guard, news agency Xinhua reported.

The overseas gambling legislative amendments would be another step taken by Chinese authorities to curtail cross-border gambling, with the report considering that such activities have resulted in a large outflow of funds and ‘seriously damaged the image of the country’ and its economic security.

Last month the director-general of China’s Ministry of Public Security International Cooperation Department, Liao Jinrong, indicated that about RMB1 trillion (US$145.5 billion) in funds flows out of China into gambling activities every year, posing a threat to the country’s economy and national security, Macau Business reports.

In June, the Chinese central bank and top monetary authority, People’s Bank of China, also issued a statement stating that combating cross-border gambling-related financial chains would be a ‘major political mission’ assigned by China’s Central Government.

Then in August, the country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism announced it would establish a “blacklist” of cross-border gambling tourism destinations, which will restrict Chinese citizens’ travel to overseas cities and scenic spots on the list.

Although the exact list has not yet been provided by Chinese authorities, analysts have pointed to the possible inclusion of Southeast Asian countries that have in recent years targetted Chinese gamblers through land-based or online gaming operations, such as the Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia, with Australia also a possible addition to the list.

The tightening regulations are also said to also impacted the usual financing channels used by VIP players via junkets operators and reduced available liquidity in the Macau SAR, causing an extra impact to a local gaming sector already hurting from the reduced visitor numbers caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Local gross gaming revenues have dropped by 82.5 per cent year-on-year to some MOP38.6 billion (US$4.8 billion) between January and September.

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