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Online Casino and Cryptocurrency Fuel Transnational Crime

Key Takeaways
  • Over 340 casinos shifted online in Southeast Asia, projecting a $205 billion formal online betting market by 2030.
  • Underregulated online casinos and crypto exchanges enable fast, anonymized transactions, intensifying criminal activities in Southeast Asia.
  • Escalating cross-border challenges demand urgent international collaboration and stronger regulatory measures to curb the online casino threat in Asia.
16-Jan-2024 By: Gunjan Sahu
Online Casino and Cr

Cryptocurrency, Online Casino and Organized Crime in Southeast Asia

A recent United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) report has unveiled a disturbing trend in East and Southeast Asia, shedding light on the pivotal role of online casino, cryptocurrency, and illicit financial activities. Titled ‘Casinos, Money Laundering, Underground Banking, and Transnational Organized Crime in East and Southeast Asia: A Hidden, Accelerating Threat,’ the study underscores the interconnectedness of these elements, contributing to the rise of transnational organised crime in the region.

Casino Landscape Transformation into Online Casino

The UNODC analysis estimates that over 340 licensed and unlicensed land-based casinos were operational in Southeast Asia in early 2022. However, a significant shift towards online casino platforms and limitless casino offering live-dealer streaming and proxy betting services, has been observed. The formal online betting market is projected to surpass $205 billion by 2030, with the Asia Pacific region leading this growth. One of the online casino that is known for betting is ignition casino and it's also known for ignition casino no deposit bonus.

Crypto's Role in Illicit Economy

According to coin gabbar the surge in underregulated online casino platforms and crypto transactions has revolutionised the illicit economy, enabling faster and anonymized transactions. Criminals are capitalising on the scalability and digitization of casino and crypto solutions, intensifying criminal activities across Southeast Asia, particularly in the Mekong region.

Money Laundering Challenges

Jeremy Douglas, UNODC Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, highlighted how online casino and limitless casino have become links for money laundering, allowing major organised crime groups to move and launder massive volumes of state-backed fiat and cryptocurrencies. The report points out that Southeast Asia's economic development has inadvertently created opportunities for organised crime, emphasising the risks in the Mekong countries with a history of illicit economic activity. The crypto market needs to be made more secure from these illicit activities. 

Diversification into Cyberfraud

The report reveals the diversification of illegal online casino operations into cyberfraud and cryptocurrency laundering. Evidence suggests organised crime influence in areas controlled by armed groups in Myanmar. The swift integration of technology, including mirror websites, cryptocurrencies, and third-party betting software, facilitates the establishment of online casinos in East Asia, irrespective of local betting regulations.

Cross-Border Challenges and Crackdowns

The trend has led to a surge in illegal cross-border betting activities, prompting intensified law enforcement efforts. The report warns of the complexity in determining jurisdiction, citing an example where an organised crime syndicate operates websites hosted in one country, licensed in another, and with customers in a third. Chinese authorities have been proactive in addressing these challenges, arresting over 75,000 suspects involved in illegal cross-border betting in 2020, with subsequent crackdowns in 2022 and 2023.

Call for International Collaboration

The escalating numbers underscore the challenges authorities face in curbing the proliferation of online betting. The report emphasises the need for international collaboration and stronger regulatory measures to address the global nature of the issue. Urgent coordinated efforts are required to tackle the growing threat posed by the expanding online casino landscape in the region.

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