The dark world of Chinese casinos on Sino-Burma border

Days ahead the Chinese New Year on January 26, 2009, thousands of Chinese gamblers are gambling at the Chinese owned casinos in Burmese territory on the Sino-Burma border, said sources.

The people in Maijayang (Mai Ja Yang) Casino told KNG today, thousands of Chinese still gamble in the casino even though the Chinese New Year is close. Very few Chinese gamblers have gone back to their homes.

Maijayang Casino is owned by Chinese businessmen in Maijayang border business village under the controlled area of a Kachin insurgent group the Kachin Independence Organization (KIO), which signed a ceasefire agreement with the Burmese ruling junta. It is currently one of the biggest casinos in China's southwestern border with military-ruled Burma.

Every day, over 10,000 people, mainly Chinese from different areas in China including Beijing, Shanghai, Hunan, Henan and Hong Kong play at Maijayang casino which is open 24 hours, according to residents of Maijayang.

The KIO has hired out the land to the Maijayang casino site to Chinese businessmen under a 30-year contract signed between the KIO and Chinese businessmen in 2000.  But, people started to gamble in the casino in Maijayang since 2002.  Last year, Chinese businessmen took an extra 80 acres of land for the casino from KIO at the same place.

At the moment, Maijayang casino is one of the most crowded on the border. However the number of rich-businessmen has dropped among the gamblers compared to 2008 because of a rise in murder and suicide, said Maijayang sources.

Road, communication and electricity

Electricity in Maijayang casino is provided by China and all gamblers and local people can use Chinese land-lines and mobile phones. They can also access internet inside the casino compound as well as in Maijayang village which is provided by China.

The casino site is located near the official border road connecting the two cities on the border, Lweje (Loije in Kachin) in Burmese territory and Jiang Phong (Jiang Hkong) in Chinese territory.

Chinese gamblers go to the Maijayang casino by crossing the Chinese checkpoints on the border or through different illegal roads on the border, said border sources.  There are several openings along the border of the two countries.

A resident of Maijayang said, Chinese underground travel agents transport guest gamblers from around China to Maijayang by charging extra travel fares.

The KIO authorities allow Chinese casino gamblers to Maijayang whereas Chinese border guards check their citizens who go to the Maijayang but are not strict, said people in Maijayang casino.

Casino security

The Maijayang casino compound is now 160 acres but the gambling area is in several buildings over half acres.

Security outside the casino compound is the responsibility of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA) soldiers.  Over a dozen KIA soldiers do duty at more than eight checkpoints around the casino site.  Each KIA soldier earns over 1,000 Yuan (US $147) as salary and it is paid by the Chinese casino's owners.

Security inside the casino is the responsibility of paid security personnel and they are all Chinese.  There are over 200 security personnel inside the casino and each person gets over 10,000 Yuan (US $1,470) per month as salary, said casino sources.

No one is allowed to enter the casino with belongings such as cameras, video cameras, bags except wallets and mobile phones by KIA security guards on instructions by the casino owners.

On strict directives of casino owners, the KIA security guards forbid taking photographs and videos of the casino. They also discourage and dislike people or the media asking for information about the casino, said sources close to them.

According to casino sources, there are secret underground tunnels inside the casino compound connecting the casino with the China border. These are built for people in the casino to escape to China in case the border authorities' crackdown.

Kidnapping, suicide and missing among casino players

Kidnappings, suicides and people going missing are not unusual in the Maijayang casino and others on the borders, said border people.

Sources said there are secret killing fields inside the casinos where the people who win or lose in gambling are killed and the bodies are broken down into liquid by extremely strong acids.  The liquid remains are poured into streams near the casinos, loilets and underground wells. These events are happening in the two casinos in KIO controlled areas on the borders—Laiza and Maijayang.

Residents of Maijayang said, the Chinese casino owners hire both Chinese and local Kachins in the name of "businessmen watching job" by paying over 800 Yuan (US $118) per month. But the job involves torture of gamblers who lose borrowed money from the casino owners until they pay back the debt.

Currently, over 30 residents of Maijayang are working at the jobs so-called "businessmen watching jobs" in the hotels near the casino site where the losing gamblers are kidnapped, added local people.

The losing gamblers are kidnapped in hotel rooms and are provided mobile phones however they are tortured, assaulted and sometimes murdered as a last resort. Starvation is also resorted to and women gamblers are confined in the rooms naked when they do not pay back the debt to casino owners within the specified period, said sources close to gamblers.

Last December, 2008, Lt-Col. Maran Tawng La, commander of KIA's 3rd Brigade (BC) under KIO held a day-long special meeting with Chinese casino owners of Maijayang and requested them to play casino without committing any torture, assault and murder over the gamblers.

 

Generally, KIO takes action on Chinese businessmen who kidnap and torture gamblers in the hotels outside casino compound in Maijayang if it realizes it, according to residents.

 

Last year, Chang Ying Hku casino, the biggest casino owned by the Chinese in the controlled area of another Kachin ceasefire group called the New Democratic Army-Kachin (NDA-K) in Burmese territory was closed down by Chinese authorities after about 80 Chinese businessmen who were gambling went missing or were murdered, NDA-K sources said.

In 2006, another Chinese-owned casino in Nbapa, in the controlled area of KIA's 3rd Brigade near the border was closed down by Chinese authorities because of the rise of killings among Chinese gamblers including sons of Communist Party of China (CPC) also called Chinese Communist Party (CCP) members in Yunnan province, said KIO sources.

Slaughtering animals to natural god (animism) for reducing murder in Maijayang casino

For the first time, Chinese casino owners of Maijayang made an unusual offering by slaughtering an ox, a black pig and chickens to the animist god also called Kachin Nat at the mountain near the casino in Maijayang on December 27, 2008.

The slaughtered animals offered to Kachin Nat were mainly aimed at bringing down murders and suicides in their casino given the rise in murders and suicides in casino each year.

The offering service was conducted by three elderly residents of Maijayang where over 200 people attended the mountain Nat service including some Christian residents, KIA soldiers and over 20 Chinese businessmen who own the casino, said residents of Maijayang.

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