Posted on: December 25, 2020, 06:09h.
Last updated on: December 25, 2020, 07:42h.
A Hong Kong police raid of a suspected luxury casino led to 16 arrests this week. Authorities also seized approximately HK$24 million (US$3 million) worth of chips, HK$215,000 (US $27,711) in currency, and 200 sets of playing cards from the operation, according to local news reports.
Those apprehended included 11 suspects described as high rollers. They were arrested at the luxury apartment complex in the Tsim Sha Tsui retail district, the South China Morning Post, a local regional newspaper, reported.
The suspects include a barrister and four directors of Hong Kong-based financial service firms, the report adds. Three students studying at universities were also among the suspects.
Police suspect it was a lucrative operation run by an alleged criminal gang. “We believe its daily turnover reached up to HK$10 million [US $1.3 million], and the gang could pocket HK$1 million [US$129,000] per night,” a police official revealed to the South China Morning Post.
Casino Operators Tied to Organized Crime, Police Say
Also arrested in the raid was the alleged boss of the suspected casino. Police claim he has ties to organized crime, known as the “triad” in Hong Kong.
If convicted, he faces up to seven years in prison. He could be fined up to HK$5 million (US $644,450.)
Three women who worked as dealers on the gaming floor were also apprehended. Each was suspected of operating a gambling establishment, as well as assisting the operation of an illegal gambling den or unlawful gambling.
If convicted, the dealers could spend up to nine months in prison. They could also be forced to pay as much as a HK$30,000 (US $3,867) fine.
More arrests are possible. The gaming operation was shuttered after the police raid.
As of mid-week, none of the suspects had been formally charged by Hong Kong police. Police began investigating the operation last month after they became suspicious.
The alleged casino was situated in a soundproofed penthouse apartment in a luxury building known as The Masterpiece. The duplex apartment has a view of Victoria Harbor.
The gaming floor was located on the apartment’s lower floor. It included at least one baccarat table, the South China Morning Post said.
Whiskey, Cigars, and Wine Served to High Rollers
Upstairs, whiskey and red wine were served. Cigars were available, too.
Entry into the gaming operation was restricted to regular players. The casino limited hours to three to four times a week, typically from 8 pm to 1 am.
Rent for the apartment reportedly was HK $130,000 a month. That works out to about US$16,756 per month.
The Masterpiece has 345 luxury apartments. A Hyatt Regency Hotel and shopping center are also located there.
In an unrelated inquiry, in March a Hong Kong illegal gaming racket, which obtained $1.8 million from eight gambling dens in just a half year, was broken up by local police in a series of raids, police revealed.
Three ringleaders and 26 other suspects were arrested in March and more arrests were possible, news reports add.
Police allege most of the players in the March incident had ties to the “underworld,” the South China Morning Post claimed, based on statements from officials. The players included suspected drug traffickers, as well as members of triads, police sources told the newspaper.