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Japanese police arrest operators of online mahjong site

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Prefectural Police in Kyoto, Japan, on Monday arrested seven individuals, including one U.S. citizen, suspected of involvement in an illegal mahjong betting website.

According to authorities, Randall Aaron Asher, a 36-year-old American residing in Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, along with six others, allegedly amassed approximately JPY 2.3 billion ($15.3 million) in earnings over the course of more than ten years operating the Dora Mahjong website. Investigations are underway to uncover the organizational framework behind this operation and this marks the first instance of suspected online casino operators being apprehended in Japan.

Arrest warrants indicate that from March to December 2023, Asher and his cohorts, aged between 25 and 47, allegedly levied service fees while facilitating gambling activities for six local customers on the website. While Asher and two others have reportedly confessed to the charges, the remaining four individuals have partially contested their involvement, asserting they were unaware of any illegality.

In Japan, gambling outside of authorized establishments is prohibited but prosecuting online casinos under Japanese law is often complicated due to their operation from overseas servers. However, Kyoto police determined that the seven suspects conducted their activities from within Japan, prompting their arrests. Investigations into the website’s users are ongoing, focusing on suspicions of habitual gambling among other potential charges.

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