Hong Kong police rounded up 79 people in a series of raids that shut down two underground casinos and an unlicensed pub in the span of two hours on Tuesday night.
In one raid on a Ko Shing Street flat in Sai Ying Pun, officers found a baccarat table and two large televisions used to play online card games, seizing HK$215,000 (US$27,697) in cash, HK$410,000 in chips and five account books.
Sixteen men and six women, aged 31 to 74, were inside the premises when officers from the Western special duty squad moved in at 10pm on Tuesday.
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One of them – a 45-year-old man – was arrested on suspicion of operating a gambling establishment, while the others were detained for unlawful gambling.
Police said they would step up patrols across the district.
About an hour earlier, 21 people suspected of playing baccarat were arrested when police swooped in on another gambling den operating in a Hung To Road flat in Kwun Tong. Police seized gambling paraphernalia and HK$70,000 in cash during the operation.
In Hong Kong, gambling in an illegal establishment carries a maximum penalty of nine months in jail and a HK$30,000 fine. Operating a gambling establishment carries a maximum penalty of seven years in jail and a HK$5 million fine.
Meanwhile, police arrested 27 men and nine women at an unlicensed pub in Ma Wang Road in Yuen Long at about 11pm on Tuesday.
One of the suspects, a 48-year-old man, believed to have been in charge of the venue, was held on suspicion of selling alcoholic beverages without a liquor licence. The others were detained for drinking in an unlicensed establishment.
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Inside the bar, officers seized HK$100,000 worth of liquor, televisions and stereo equipment.
According to the force, all 79 suspects were also fined HK$5,000 each for violating social-distancing rules banning gatherings of more than four people.
Police appealed to residents to comply with relevant social-distancing regulations to assist in the control of the coronavirus pandemic and minimise the risk of Covid-19 spreading in the community.
This article Hong Kong police arrest 79 in raids on gambling dens, unlicensed pub first appeared on South China Morning Post