Chinese officials shut down online gambling ring that accumulated $1.5 billion in World Cup bets.

On Thursday 12th of July, Chinese officials shut down an online gambling ring that accumulated 1.5 billion dollars in bets made on World Cup matches. Participants made bets with different cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum.

In a statement reported by the South China Morning Post, police from the Guangdong Province in China said that they detained six people who were suspected to run the illegal gambling ring. The website ran on the dark web and could only be accessed by using special software that encrypts the user’s traffic and the website is not indexed by traditional search engines and it attracted over 300,000 participants from different countries over the last eight months. Chinese officials said that the gambling ring was set up and run as a pyramid scheme where recruiters could benefit from inviting other members. The website had over 8,000 agents who earned commissions for recruiting new members. This is thought to be one of the first sports betting crimes involving cryptocurrencies in China.

In a separate statement on Thursday, the police of Guangdong said that they arrested 540 suspects from over 20 different gambling rings and frozen 260 million Chinese yuan (~$38m) related to the criminal activities to crack down on World Cup gambling. The statement reads that the crypto gambling case  “is the most representative of the new-type of online football gambling so far.”

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