In Myanmar, 19 people including four security personnel were reportedly killed over the weekend after ethnic insurgents attacked an illegal casino located close to the nation’s border with China.
According to a report from GGRAsia citing an earlier story from the Reuters news service, the assault by about 100 members of the Ta’ang National Liberation Army took place on Saturday morning in the Shan state border community of Muse and also involved attacks on local security checkpoints.
Casinos are not officially authorized in Mayanmar, which was long known as Burma until a controversial name change in 1989, but GGRAsia reported that local paramilitary groups and organized crime syndicates run numerous gambling venues in Shan state border regions appealing to players in China’s neighboring Yunnan Province.
A government spokesperson reportedly declared that the assault on the unnamed casino had been repelled by armed police and government-backed paramilitaries with GGRAsia further declaring that it was unclear as to the amount of damage the illegal gambling establishment had incurred.
GGRAsia reported that the Ta’ang National Liberation Army consists of members of the Ta’ang minority ethnic group and is fighting Myanamar’s central government in order to secure greater autonomy. A spokesperson for the group, Colonel Tar Aik Kyaw, purportedly told Reuters the violent action had been conducted because the casino, which was allegedly run by local paramilitaries, had been dealing illegal narcotics.
“The militia is protecting the casinos and those casinos are the gateway for distributing drugs,” the representative reportedly told the news service. “Many civilians go to the casinos and it causes many social problems so we launched a major assault.”
Following earlier appeals from the chief ministers for the states of Mon, Kayin and Shan along with their counterparts from the large administrative divisions of Tanintharyi and Mandalay, Myanmar last month reportedly began revising its laws on gambling and could soon allow hotels to feature small casinos. GGRAsia detailed that the exercise, which it is hoped will help the country to boost tourism from neighboring countries such as China, Thailand and India, has already led to the government receiving expressions of interest from numerous casino operators including some responsible for gambling venues in Macau.