Chinese Police Use Drones to Bust Illegal Gambling Rings

drones illegal gambling china

The Chinese police have been using drones throughout many cities to bust illegal gambling rings, according to their own press release details. This makes them the first raids of gaming houses led by drone surveillance. Because gambling is illegal in mainland China, police officers need to use every weapon at their disposal to break up illegal gambling rings.

The raids have taken place in many large cities in China, including Wuhan, Xiantao, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Jieyang. In one of the latest raids, police arrested 12 gang members and 49 gamblers and confiscated 50,000 yuan. Another raid conducted in Guangdong province netted 43 gang members, 250 gamblers, and 750,000 yuan. It has been speculated that the Chinese are cracking down on illegal gambling rackets because a rash of sports betting is expected to take place during the FIFA World Cup in Russia in the summer of 2018. The World Cup is one of the most highly anticipated and highly bet on sporting events. It is estimated that $200 billion may be bet on the World Cup during the matches.


In order to conduct the raids, the Chinese government has increasingly relied on drones for video surveillance. Government policy allows drone surveillance of criminals. China has been the world’s leader in drone manufacturing. It is estimated that of the 3 million drones currently in use, 75 percent were manufactured in China. Drones, mostly small and medium quadcopters, number in the tens of thousands in police departments all over China. While historically, illegal gaming sites have been difficult to track with regular surveillance, the ability of drones to hover in the air, go above the site of activity and observe, and to collect 3-D views of the gaming site, has helped the police plan the raids. In addition, the movement of people into and out of gambling houses can be tracked and recorded. Therefore, if a gambling den moves, the police will be able to find it. Finally, the police can use the drones to inventory the supplies and equipment within the gambling dens to determine how much manpower will be needed to stage a raid and obtain the supplies and equipment.

Why Drones Have Worked

So far, the drones have been successful because the criminals have not yet figured out they can use drones to disrupt surveillance. This can be done either by warning the criminals ahead of time that a raid is coming, trying to disrupt the drone’s signal back to the police by making low passes at observation posts, or by getting close enough to make the police drone crash or leave.

There is no mistaking that the drones have been effective. They have also been used in antiterrorism activities and military surveillance to find criminal elements and stop them before they cause problems within a community. Drones can be maneuvered easily and can fly in multiple directions. Also, drones can fly for hours without needing to be recharged. Some are also being experimented on in order to carry solar cells, so they won’t need to recharge. The cameras on drones are also improving and can provide visuals in HD. Technology is continuing to increase to the point that HD visuals and sound will be available for police departments in China to use for surveillance purposes.

It would appear that drones are the wave of the future when it comes to fighting gambling crime in China, especially in large, crowded cities where the buildings are close together, making it difficult for police to do surveillance and find gambling dens.

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