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China Wages Losing War Against Gambling

16 February 2005

BEIJING, China -- As reported by the Globe and Mail: "The fabled 'whales' of Las Vegas are a rare species. Only an estimated 50 to 250 exist in the entire world.

"The whales are the high-rolling gamblers who bet the maximum $150,000 (U.S.) a hand. They win or lose a small fortune in less than 60 seconds of play.

"In the 1980s and 1990s, many of the whales were Japanese businessmen. But today, according to Las Vegas moguls, more than 50 per cent are Chinese. And more than half of those who bet $10,000 to $50,000 a hand are also Chinese.

"Beijing's Communist rulers have been waging a futile struggle against gambling for more than half a century. Gambling remains illegal in China, but it is the Communists themselves — the mid-ranking officials and cadres — who have emerged as some of the biggest gamblers in Las Vegas and Macau, and in the 200 new casinos that have sprung up just outside China's borders in recent years.

"...Last month, Beijing launched a highly publicized crackdown on gambling.

"...Experts are skeptical of the effectiveness of China's regular campaigns against gambling.

"...Some analysts predict that China will eventually be obliged to legalize gambling, if only to stem the massive outflow of cash to foreign casinos..."

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