Hong Kong police crack down on underground gambling den for high rollers being run out of luxury penthouse

Clifford Lo
·3-min read

Hong Kong police have shut down an underground casino for wealthy gamblers that was operating in the penthouse of a high-end residential block in the busy Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district.

Eleven alleged gamblers, including a barrister, four company directors and three university students, were among 16 people arrested during the operation shortly before midnight on Tuesday, a senior police officer said.

Police also seized HK$24 million (US$3 million) in gambling chips and HK$215,000 in cash.

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“A single bet involving more than HK$100,000 was placed on a baccarat game,” a police source said. “We believe its daily turnover reached up to HK$10 million, and the gang could pocket HK$1 million per night.”

To lure well-off gamblers and avoid attracting police attention to the illegal business, the source said, the gambling racket spent about HK$130,000 a month to rent the duplex on the top floor of The Masterpiece, which comprises 345 luxury flats, the K11 shopping centre and a Hyatt Regency hotel.

The alleged operator of the racket had rented the penthouse of The Masterpiece in Tsim Sha Tsui. Photo: Google
The alleged operator of the racket had rented the penthouse of The Masterpiece in Tsim Sha Tsui. Photo: Google

Offering stunning views of Victoria Harbour, the gambling hall was equipped with a baccarat table on the lower level of the duplex.

“The upper floor of the penthouse was used as a resting area where customers were served red wine, whisky and cigars,” Superintendent Alan Chung of the Kowloon West regional crime unit said.

To avoid detection the establishment only served regular clients, Chung said.

“A lookout was also stationed outside the building and soundproofing materials were fixed to the wall,” he said.

The gambling den opened three to four times a week, usually from 8pm to 1am, according to the force.

Chung said the casino had been operating for about two months.

Police began investigating the racket about a month ago after intelligence indicated a criminal gang was spending more than HK$100,000 a month to rent a luxury flat to operate an illegal gambling establishment, the superintendent said.

He said it was the first time in 20 years he had come across an illegal gambling den operating in such a high-end flat.

Police also seized cash. Photo: Handout
Police also seized cash. Photo: Handout

Customers bought gambling chips from the gang by bank transfer, so police would carry out financial investigations to trace the crime proceeds, Chung said.

The 16 suspects – seven men and nine women – included the alleged operator, who rented the penthouse. Three women who were suspected of working as croupiers were also among the suspects.

Police arrested them on suspicion of operating a gambling establishment, assisting the operation of an illegal gambling den or unlawful gambling.

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.

As of Wednesday afternoon, all 16 suspects were being held for questioning, and none had been charged.

Police said the investigation was continuing and further arrests were possible.

This article Hong Kong police crack down on underground gambling den for high rollers being run out of luxury penthouse first appeared on South China Morning Post

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