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May 17, 2011

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Cabbies' gambling den claims

BORED cabbies have turned an area behind the taxi pool at Shanghai Pudong International Airport into an unhygienic gambling den, claim passersby.

Witnesses say cabbies gather at night to play poker or watch others playing. It is also claimed they leave the remains of meals lying around the meadow and urinate there as they can't be bothered walking to nearby toilets.

Police and the airport manager told Shanghai Daily that they would launch an immediate investigation.

In the evening, crowds of cabbies, wearing their service uniforms, are seen gathering at the meadow area. Large pieces of cardboard placed on bricks provide makeshift tables under streetlights, it is claimed.

Witnesses say banknotes have been seen on some tables, even though gambling is illegal in China. It is also claimed that drivers get into arguments about card games and disputes occasionally flare into fights.

It's common for drivers to wait several hours to get their turn to pick up passengers.

Some cabbies said boredom led them to take part in poker games to kill time.

"The meadow is located behind the car pool and the cabbies' canteen," said an official with the airport authority yesterday.

Cabbies can buy boxed meals from the canteen and eat them in the meadow area, she explained.

But gambling would not be tolerated, she stressed.

Police said they would investigate the accusations of gambling among cabbies.

Sanitation has also become a problem, witnesses say. Many cabbies, too lazy to walk to toilets, urinate in the meadow and by the wall, they claim.

And meal leftovers and food boxes are discarded on the ground.

"To find the gambler drivers, you only need to follow the stink in the meadow," said one witness.

Drivers said they wished the airport manager would offer them some leisure facilities while waiting for business, such as an area for them to watch TV.

Airport officials have not yet responded to this suggestion.

Anyone caught gambling in China faces a jail term in addition to a fine.


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