What China’s Use of Big Data to Crack Down on Gambling Citizens Teaches Us

Most people already understand that the use of digital devices leaves a long digital footprint. When you use your computer, smartphone, or most devices with memory, it keeps track of data and usage statistics.

When combined with those from billions of other devices, these small amounts of data make ‘Big Data’. Most issues that have raised privacy concerns worldwide have to do with how data captured by these devices are used.

Big Data may be massive data sets of small amounts of data, but it reveals a lot when computationally analyzed. Personalized data reveal patterns in a group of people or an entire population of a country. They can also be analyzed to reveal associations between individuals, trends, and patterns in behavior.

This is why when reports emerge that China uses big data to crack down on gamblers and online fun-seekers, it presents the world with a good opportunity to learn.

Chinese Gambling Laws

All forms of gambling are illegal in China, save for the state-run national lottery. No commercial casinos are operating in China except for the Special Administrative Region of Macau. You can learn more about international gambling laws on Casinotalk.com.

Breakers of this law are subject to severe repercussions, including being denied visas to leave the country. Despite this, people are still finding ways to circumvent the laws to gamble on international sites online.

Pre-Emptive Big Data Algorithms

The Chinese government is taking its anti-gambling measures a step further with the use of big data. Deputy Director of Beijing Immigration Inspection Ji Lixia explained how the government is acting to anticipate lawbreakers.

She said that China is using intelligent algorithms to comb through big data. The system combs through large amounts of digitally stored information to estimate the odds of the person trying to visit an international website with the intent to gamble.

People deemed to be intentionally attempting to gamble at foreign casinos are sanctioned. The punishment is in addition to being denied exit from the country.

The Credit Rating System

China has a very complicated social credit system. Although it is not the first in the world, it is unique in more ways than one. The use of big data to clamp down on international gamblers is a play straight out of the social credit system.

The crackdown on gamblers is a simple focus on one aspect of the communist country’s laws to an uninformed mind. However, the move to hunt down gamblers is just one facet of the many that the system is capable of.

The credit system comprises many semi-independent rating systems covering almost every aspect of a Chinese citizen’s life. These include financial, governmental records, data from registry offices, and even criminal records. As the government perfects the system, it is becoming clear that all the data is aggregated at later stages to formulate an overall score.

Video Surveillance With Big Data

There are reports that the big data algorithm is so advanced that it can collect and match data from real-time video surveillance. It means that an individual found culpable of breaking the gambling laws can be monitored even in the physical world.

As the rest of the world grapples with formulating laws and regulations to govern the use of big data, China already hit the ground running. The Chinese Communist Party is very secretive on how its algorithms work, but it is apparent they cracked a code every other country is trying to understand.


While the Chinese use Big Data in ways that appear repressive to its citizens, they have proven that they can be used as positive change tools. Such countries as Chile, Germany, Russia, UK, and Venezuela, whose systems are considered ‘still young,’ can draw positive lessons from how CHina is hunting down gamblers online.