57 Chinese nationals were convicted by the Palau Judiciary, Court of Common Pleas, on the charge of promoting gambling in the second degree. The arrests occurred as a result of an online gambling raid at the Harvest Hotel earlier this year, jointly conducted by the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP), the Anti-Human Trafficking Office, and the Foreign Investment Board. The raid resulted in the seizure of over a hundred pieces of online gambling equipment, including over 64 laptops, 70 SIM cards, 160 credit debit cards, 170 cellphones, 500 tokens, and cash.
Unlicensed operation of gambling is a crime in both the Republic of Palau and the People’s Republic of China. The defendants, who were in Palau on tourist visas, conducted an unlicensed online gambling operation out of the Harvest Hotel. From hotel rooms converted into offices, they promoted illegal gambling through the use of high-speed internet with the equipment seized in the raid, and Chinese bank-issued tokens used for high-level encryption of sensitive banking data.
On July 28 and 29, a total of 60 Chinese nationals were charged with Working Without a Permit and Promotion of Gambling in the Second Degree, two of which are still at large with outstanding arrest warrants. One of the arrested gamblers is a juvenile whose case will be taken up next week. The remaining 57 pleaded guilty to the charges against them, and were fined $100 each. They agreed to forfeit all items used in the gambling operation and to leave Palau on the next available flight.
The defendants’ illegal online gambling operation is estimated to have handled millions of dollars without licenses and without paying taxes.