A multi-million dollar scheme that saw high-stakes wagering on baccarat carried out over WeChat was dismantled recently by police recently in Macau.
Judiciary Police say the sophisticated scheme was carried out by at least seven people from China’s Zhejiang Province over the country’s most popular social messaging service. The operators were able to place bets from people on the mainland on Macau baccarat tables pulling in about US$1.3 million in March.
According to a report in the South China Morning Post, the newest method of so-called ‘side betting’ is just another twist in the long-standing problem which has plagued gaming officials for several years. Rather than having an operative relay numbers vocally over a cell phone in the VIP rooms as has been the case in the past, the bets were placed, and results were revealed in real time over WeChat.
Authorities did not immediately identify which casinos or VIP rooms may have been involved, but around 40 customers on the mainland, where casino gambling is strictly prohibited, were served daily by the scheme which involved two or three gang members placing bets at the baccarat tables and relaying the results of each game over the social media platform.
Gamblers were reportedly given just over a minute to place their bets, ranging from HK$300 (about US$38.59) to “unlimited” stakes according to reports.
The operation was called “sophisticated” by the police with a well-executed plan. Judiciary Police spokesman Tam Weng Keong told GGRAsia, a local gambling industry news outlet, “For instance, the first and the sixth suspect were responsible for handling accounting via the computer and controlled the wagering of their accomplices in the casino… the second and third suspects were mainly responsible for collecting bets from the [WeChat] group members.”
The group is thought to have made it’s profits from charging commissions and hedging some bets and is may have been operating for over a onth before being taken out of service.