December 04, 2014 12:43
Jeju is fast turning into a new mecca for China's inveterate gamblers, with casinos offering all-inclusive packages that mean visitors can practically hit the tables the moment they step off the plane.
One casino offers free round-trip tickets and a room at a five-star hotel to high rollers from China. A Chinese interpreter and Chinese cooking are also part of the package.
One Chinese newspaper reporting on overseas gambling said Jeju Island has become a "new haven" by offering a welter of services, including sex.
Jeju's casinos have opened offices in China to tout for gamblers there. One agent has organized 53 gambling trips to Jeju for Chinese gamblers over the last two years.
Some casinos get caught lending money at high interest to keep Chinese gamblers at the tables. They offer gambling chips after money is wired to bank accounts in China and send money into the accounts of gamblers held in Chinese banks. This means there is no need for gamblers to carry cash.
One official in Zhejiang Province said, "Once Jeju offered visa-free entry to Chinese citizens, gamblers who used to go to Burma, Laos and Vietnam started heading there instead."
Many Chinese gamblers end up losing their shirt. One Chinese diplomat on the southern resort island said, "There is an '80-percent' rule when it comes to Chinese tourists to Jeju Island. Eighty percent of tourists to Jeju are Chinese, 80 percent of them gamble and 80 percent of them end up losing money."
In some instances Chinese tourists have turned to loan sharks on the resort island, have their passports confiscated and commit suicide when their luck refuses to turn.
The Chinese daily reported than Chinese tourists spent US$74 billion on overseas gambling, second only after the U.S. when it comes to the amount of money spent on gambling outside its borders.
Chinese officials have pledged to crack down on overseas gambling, since gambling is illegal on the mainland. Gambling overseas is also illegal, but authorities have looked the other way until now.
China's Leisure and Cultural Services Department said Wednesday that the number of outbound Chinese tourists surpassed 100 million for the first time this year. The number of Chinese visiting Korea and Japan in January to November of this year surged more than 40 percent compared to the same period of 2013.
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