Chinese police in the city of Guangdong have arrested hundreds of individuals involved in online gambling platforms that facilitated betting with $1.5 billion in cryptocurrencies including bitcoin.
A sweeping law enforcement operation involving 21 public security authorities in Guangdong has cracked down on organized football gambling during the ongoing football World Cup, resulting in the arrests of some 540 individuals suspected of organizing online gambling rings. Gambling is illegal under Chinese law and the very act of participating in online gambling or facilitating/opening a gambling platform brings criminal liabilities.
In an announcement, the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department narrowed down on a specific unnamed online gambling platform that facilitated over RMB 10 billion ($1.5 billion) in cryptocurrency betting. The gambling platform promised support for betting in Bitcoin, Ethereum’s Ether token and Litecoin, the announcement said.
In the 8 months since its launch, the gambling platform attracted over 330,000 members.
Authorities accused the platform of amassing profits through a pyramid scheme that encourages members, or ‘agents’, to bring in others to raise their own commissions. Further, the bookmaker also allegedly manipulated the online betting odds in proportion to the size of the bets to allow a small number of people to win, authorities claimed.
Authorities have also arrested ‘six key members’ behind the gambling platform across China, frozen assets of over RMB 5 million and confiscated cryptocurrency worth over RMB 10 million (approx. $1.5 million).
Severs, computers, smartphones and bank cards were also seized during the crackdown which has seen authorities shut down seventy mobile apps and websites alongside 250 online chat groups overall.
“[This case] is the most representative [example] of a new form of online football gambling,” the Guangdong authority added.
Meanwhile, the World Cup final is due to be contested between France and Croatia, the latter the underdog, this Sunday. Odds?