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Myanmar’s Casino Cities: The Role of China and Transnational Criminal Networks

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an excellent read...


                                        SPECIAL REPORT  NO. 471

Myanmar’s Casino Cities: The Role of China and Transnational Criminal Networks
By Jason Tower and Priscilla Clapp


Complex transnational networks of Chinese investors, forced out of Cambodia for illegal gambling ac-tivity, are relocating to Karen State to build three megacities as a hub for casinos. They use partnerships with local armed groups, operating under the authority of the national army, to gain access to land, offer-ing in return a share of the profits

.The Myanmar government has yet to license casinos, meaning this sector remains illegal. Investors have ignored government approv-al processes, however, and moved rapidly during the COVID-19 pan-demic to build facilities to house illegal gambling.

To circumvent Chinese laws against gambling, ethnic Chinese with cit-izenship in other countries spear-head these projects. Of concern to Beijing, they have co-opted Chinese government institutions and agen-cies to present their activities as cen-tral to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

These megacities flagrantly under-mine Myanmar’s efforts to advance reforms serving the national inter-est, and Naypyitaw is responding with establishment of a commis-sion to investigate them. This kind of investment threatens to reverse recent gains made by decades of uS assistance support-ing democratic reform in Myanmar, and merits strong American sup-port for efforts to control it



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