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Online casinos popular in Myanmar's drug country

Myanmar's jungle virtual online casinos are open for business again, only this time with a new media twist that allows casino owners to dodge an official ban on their operations and Chinese gamblers to play for even higher stakes without leaving their homes.

Welcome to the latest incarnation of Mong La, Myanmar's low-grade rendition of Las Vegas and a recurring irritant in China.

Located in Myanmar's Special Region No 4, the jungle town quickly emerged as a.

According to people familiar with the situation, China briefly sent a small number of troops into the remote region to enforce the travel ban and pressure online casinos operators to close down their operations.

The militia leader in the area is now aggressively expanding his enterprise into online casinos, a fast-growing multibillion-US-dollar global industry that is just now catching on in China.

This April, the leader presided over the opening of seven new online casinos gambling facilities, specifically designed and outfitted for online casinos China-based gamers. Another 14 online casinos gambling venues are being carved out of the jungle about 16 kilometers southwest of Mong La, set idyllically among paddy fields and wandering water buffalo.

In the casinos, black leather chairs sit around immaculate baccarat tables. Suspended above the tables are cameras connected to the Internet, which allow for scores of remote Chinese gamblers to play their hands at online casinos.

Mong La's new casinos are a curious twist on Western-style online casinos, which is conducted solely in cyberspace. From the comfort of their homes in Beijing, Kunming or Shanghai, Chinese gamblers watch the online casinos tables via a live video feed over the Internet and place their bets through agents on location at the jungle casinos. The arrangement, says the casino operator, allows the online casinos players and online casinos operators to circumvent recent Chinese efforts to prevent the outflow of cash into Myanmar's black markets.

The transactions also entail a measure of trust. Net gambling players inside China transfer funds into the casino operators' China-based bank accounts. Once the transfer is confirmed, a player logs on to the online casinos website and watches the game from the cameras above the tables via high-speed Internet while communicating with his agent via mobile phone. When the hand is played out, the remote player can opt to have winnings wired to his account or alternatively order the agent to get the cash physically from the casino.

One of the casino operators who spoke with an Asian newspaper claimed to be able to cover up to US$1 million in bets in this fashion per day. New online casinos recently opened at nearby Wan Hsieo, Mong Ma and the tract outside Mong La are able to handle similar financial traffic, meaning total daily turnover at Myanmar's online casinos could hit $20 million, depending, of course, on how the cards are played. The operator said investors in mainland China, Hong Kong and Thailand had contributed funds to the new casinos.



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