A Taiwanese billionaire was among 32 people indicted by Taichung prosecutors Wednesday for running an online gambling platform and engaging in money laundering that earned them an illicit profit of more than NT$59.4 billion (US$2.13 billion).
Chuang Chou-wen, chairman of Taichung-based Xinliwang International Holdings Company, and 31 of his employees have been charged with gambling, engaging in organised criminal activity and tax evasion by the Taichung District Prosecutors Office.
The 50-year-old billionaire has been detained since his arrest in November 2020. After he was arrested, prosecutors confiscated all of the assets found under his name, including 13 luxury cars, NT$1.2 billion and US$2.65 million in cash, and 41 properties worth NT$1.3 billion, to prevent him from moving or liquidating these ill-gotten gains prior to trial.
According to the indictment, Chuang runs the Xinliwang Group, which owns a total of 12 companies that have jointly operated an online gambling platform called “GPK Bet” since 2014.
The platform featured 532 online gambling sites and 54 online gambling system providers. Chuang’s operation was busted in January 2020 when investigators found an office building in Taichung had been used as a money laundering centre to transfer high volumes of money in and out of different accounts held by gamblers, many of them in China.
Fragnova shows the positive side of Web3 technologies with its first game, Ambal Duels
Fragnova has announced that Ambal Duels, a free-to-play strategy card game, will be the first blockchain-enabled game to be built using the platform’s unique game development engine, Claymore. Using blockchain technology means the game will have immutable assets and modding functionalities, allowing the community to create their own content that they can choose to monetise, thanks to the direct-to-creator royalties distribution that’s fundamental to Fragnova’s approach.
Ambal Duels began life as a successful Kickstarter campaign for the fantasy-themed strategy card game Ambal Tournament. Ambal Duels is the first game to be built entirely using Fragnova’s decentralised model, and so is the platform’s first proof of concept game.
The game’s development is being led by Bernardo Bittencourt, a Founding member of Fragnova and the one-person team behind Salt Ring Games. “Bringing Ambal Tournament to the digital realm has been a passion project of mine, so I’m really excited we’ll be able to grow the game and share the fantasy world of Ambal with entirely new audiences. Fragnova is the perfect platform for Ambal Duels as the blockchain provides the ideal foundation for players to trade and collect cards. The platform’s focus on user-generated content and modding functionalities make Fragnova unique, enabling the community to express themselves creatively while keeping the game fresh with new content.”
Ambal Duels is a strategic card game combining online RPG elements to create a fast-paced and highly customizable gameplay experience. There are no monsters in Ambal Duels; instead, the game offers deep strategic options through spells and actions, putting players in the centre of the action. The tides of battle constantly shift thanks to blocks, interrupts and other unique mechanics, offering high replayability and evolving strategies.
Fragnova’s aim is for the revenues in games to be distributed more equitably to those who work on them through creating a decentralised gaming ecosystem underpinned by blockchain technology. When completed, Fragnova’s decentralised game development ecosystem will include a dedicated game engine called Claymore, a Gamer Store offering in-game items or playable experiences (similar to elements of Playstation Dreams), and the Creator Store, a marketplace for developers filled with assets like 3D models, scripts or audio.
As with any game developed on the Fragnova ecosystem, Ambal Duels’ developers and artists can realise the total value of their creations thanks to the integration of blockchain technology that tracks the usage of those assets or items.
“The game will allow people to see what our mission at Fragnova is all about and our long-term goal of bringing about decentralised game creation. I hope people will understand that just because the game is built using blockchain technology, it has nothing to do with Play 2 Earn or monetisation. Above all, we want to create a fun and enjoyable experience for our players. Blockchain is just a vehicle to help get us there and ensure game creators are fairly compensated,” said Giovanni Petrantoni, President and Founder of the Fragnova Foundation.
Macau Gambling Boss Denies Illegal Gambling, Criminal Syndicate Allegations
A well-known Macau gambling boss in China’s special administrative region of Macau denied charges including enabling illegal gaming, running a criminal syndicate and money laundering at the start of his trial on Monday.
Alvin Chau was chairman of Macau’s Suncity junket – which brokers the gambling activity of Chinese high rollers – until December 2021, a month after his arrest on a warrant from the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou accusing him of operating illegal gambling activities on the Chinese mainland.
Macau is the only city in China where citizens are legally permitted to gamble in casinos.
Chau told Macau’s primary court that he did not operate any illegal gambling or commit money laundering. He said his business in the Philippines was also permitted by local authorities there.
Junkets are middlemen who help facilitate gambling for wealthy Chinese in Macau, extending them credit and collecting on their debt on behalf of casino operators. Marketing or soliciting gambling in mainland China is illegal.
Chau said no one from Suncity Group had promoted gambling on the mainland.
Chau’s Suncity was a major player in Macau until 2019, prior to the coronavirus outbreak, accounting for around 25% of total gaming revenues. That year, Macau casinos generated $36 billion in revenue.
The junket industry has collapsed in the former Portuguese colony since Chau’s arrest with all of Suncity’s VIP rooms shuttered last December. Many others folded, hit by poor sentiment and a lack of business due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions.
IESF Holds Asian Qualifiers for Mobile Legends: Bang Bang and PUBG Mobile
Malaysia and Kazakhstan Teams Advance to the World Esports Championships Finals
The International Esports Federation (IESF) held the latest round of regional qualifiers for the upcoming World Esports Championships Finals. The Malaysia and Kazakhstan teams have advanced to the WE Championships Finals for Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB) and PUBG Mobile, respectively.
The online qualifiers featured players from 16 nations competing in MLBB, while PUBG Mobile saw players from 22 nations. The 14th WE Championships will mark the first time the two games are part of IESF’s flagship event, reflecting the progression of the event and the overall mobile gaming industry, particularly among those without the resources or means to play on consoles and supporting IESF’s vision for a more accessible and inclusive Esports ecosystem.
The remaining regional qualifiers will continue throughout the fall before the world’s best players go head-to-head in Bali, Indonesia from December 1 to 12. This year is expected to be the largest and most geographically diverse installment of the WE Championships Finals to date, with 120 nations set to compete.
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