Arcade in China Hosts Underground Gambling Club Until Caught by Police

In Yau Ma Tei, China, there was an amusement arcade that service China’s growing population of avid gaming fans during the night. At the stroke of midnight, this arcade parlor quietly ushered in scores of underground gamblers. The owners of the arcade may have offered vintage Pacman arcade machines to fun-loving patrons, but the group reportedly operated in secret, with the help of the infamous China Triad gang, to forbidden services such as gambling. The Yau Ma Tei arcade was popular with local gamers and students as they could browse a wide selection of modern and vintage titles for hours on end.

Police in China are still baffled as this was obviously a very sophisticated organization. Some involved in the illegal gambling operation would stand watch, bringing in new customers only when they felt that it was safe. Inside, gamblers would spend their nights trading cash for vouchers that could be used to win cash and other prizes. In China, gambling is highly illegal. There are a few areas, such as Maucau and Hong Kong where a few forms of gambling, namely horse tracking betting, are legal. Online gamblers run the risk of being discovered via China’s highly monitored information highway. Chinese police rarely bother casual Mah Jong players partaking in a few low stakes games between friends, but anything that is organized and profitable generally captures the immediate attention of authorities.

Gambling devices now hold all of the colorful lights and sounds of the average arcade machine. Some gambling games blur the line between arcade, amusement and betting machines. Vending machines where gamers attempt to grab stuffed animals with large, mechanical grips definitely require you to take a calculated gamble. By trading cash to play at an underground gambling hall, all involved know that they broke the law, and that the consequences can be quite severe in China. Even still, their powerful attraction to gambling and high stakes led them to an unremarkable arcade in Yau Ma Tei, where they risked it all and ended up worse off than just leaving empty handed. So far, more 20 people have been charged in relation to the raid. It is unknown what police will do with the original Pacman arcade machines and other arcade games will do while the arcade owners await prosecution.