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Taiwan police arrest dozens of gamblers playing mahjong over holidays

Gamblers arrested in Taipei, New Taipei, and Changhua over Lunar New Year

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(Unsplash, Albert Hu photo)

(Unsplash, Albert Hu photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Police in multiple cities across Taiwan arrested mahjong players over the Lunar New Year holidays for staking money on the game.

Many consider mahjong to be part of a cultural tradition around the Lunar New Year. However, police in cities throughout Taiwan focused on enforcing the country’s zero-tolerance policy on gambling dens, with dozens of arrests made over the long weekend.

On Thursday (Feb. 8), police in New Taipei’s Sanchong District received a tip that a large mahjong club had been organized by a 41-year-old man surnamed Lu (呂), who charged players a NT$200 entrance fee. Police arrested 25 people, and seized NT$119,000 (US$3,800) as evidence, reported UDN.

On Sunday (Feb. 11), police in Changhua’s Beidou Township caught 14 people playing mahjong with money outside of a temple around 11 p.m. As evidence, police seized NT$88,050 (US$2,800), mahjong tiles, as well as blankets which the players used to try and conceal their illegal activity, per UDN.

On Monday (Feb. 13), police in Taipei’s Songshan District busted what was reportedly a “professional” gambling den in a commercial building, arresting 10 people including “employees” and gamblers, reported LTN. Police arrested a 57-year-old man surnamed Chang (張), who was reportedly in charge of organizing the games, and seized two mahjong sets and NT$10,500 (US$330) as evidence.

Police in New Taipei also said Tuesday that a group of eight people were arrested in late January for gambling over mahjong in a private residence. A total of NT$51,400 (US$1,600) was found on the premises, per SETN.

Gamblers face charges of up to NT$9,000 per the Social Order Maintenance Act. Those who organized the gambling halls may face harsher penalties.