Taiwan is moving to close a “loophole” in its criminal code that would make online gambling illegal – while introducing fines for players who disobey the new law.
Gambling in a public place, or a “place open to the public” has been illegal under Taiwanese law for over 20 years, yet legislation has not been introduced until now to cover the online sector.
This “loophole,” said the Ministry of Justice, has led to persistent “social and family problems” in Taiwan.
“In the long run, players may only want to make money by gambling, so they will not contribute to society and will corrupt the social atmosphere.”
The new amendment would “add criminal liability for gambling with use of telecommunications equipment, electronic communications, the internet or other similar means.”
Meanwhile players could face up to $1,600 fines if they were found to have gambled online, and their technology used to do so, would be confiscated.
Several cases have been brought against online gamblers, often by family members, but courts have routinely overturned the accusations saying that online gambling could not be considered “public” – as stated in the current law.
Online operators targeting the Taiwanese are already subject to a three year prison sentence.
The arrests that have swept across Southeast Asia this summer have also taken place in Taiwan. In one high profile operation, police detained 67 local residents and seven Chinese nationals – said to be involved in a “one-stop industrial chain” servicing online operators with comprehensive customer and technological support.
Taiwan media said certain major bookmakers were using Taiwan as a base to access players in China, due to the native language and “abundant talents” of the local residents.