Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The Cyber Wall of Shame

Gamble all you want, but just don't have a line of credit running...
Despite the economy slowing down in China, Macau's gambling tables are still going strong. In August, gambling revenue from the city's 35 casinos rose 17.6 percent to 30.7 billion patacas, the first time it has gone over the 30 billion pataca mark.

However, that doesn't mean all the money has been collected.

And so a bilingual website is trying to shame gamblers into paying their debts by posting the personal details of more than 70 people from China.

The Singapore-based site is called Wonderful World in English, and the details include the deadbeat's photograph, date of birth, marital status, how much they owe, and a bounty is even offered to help track them down.

So far the site has recovered over 50 million yuan ($8 million).

The only glitch is that collecting gambling debts is illegal in China, and so Macau's casinos depend on junkets -- companies or agents that bring in high rollers -- to settle the debts. The junkets are usually large conglomerates that are able to lend millions of yuan to gamblers.

Launched a year ago, the site originally posted news and entertainment, but then started the debt blacklist two months ago at the suggestion of Mr Teng, the site administrator's friend.

What's interesting is that the debtors' information comes from the creditors and they can post it up free on the site. Wonderful World does not get any fee or percentage of the money recovered, and the site is cooperating with the police, even though they are investigating the site for an internal report.

"The most important thing is we want more people to see our website," said Teng.

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