Huge Chinese internet gambling bust

Names of punters to be turned over to the Ministry of Public Security

The massive nation-wide anti-online gambling blitz by Chinese police continued as the week ended, with spokesmen reporting the destruction of a major online gambling syndicate based in the Jiangsu Province.

A police spokesman told The Global Times newspaper that the ring was backed by international investors and had a customer base that exceeded 22,000 people from across the country. The police turned over the identities of all 22,000 gamblers, which include civil servants and foreigners working in China, to the Ministry of Public Security for further action.

Authorities arrested more than 30 suspects, an officer with the Internet inspection division of the local public security bureau told the Global Times Friday. The raids are the product of police surveillance following the arrest in February this year of a driver for a local government body.

Police said the gambling websites involved were hosted in Taiwan and the Philippines and belonged to an overseas online gambling company, which operated three companies on the mainland that illegally promoted gambling through 300 agents who were paid commissions ranging from 25 to 40 percent.

Transactions at one of the companies totaled 200 million yuan (US$29 million) a month. Clients could deposit cash into payment websites to place bets, and were able to wager on sports as well as card games through video streaming.

One Shanghai bank worker embezzled 18 million yuan (US$2.6 million) from his bank for internet gambling, the officer said.

Authorities froze 110 million yuan (US$16 million) out of the 5 billion yuan (US$731 million) operational funds of the company.

"Online gambling is exciting to some Web users and, comparatively speaking, it is not easy to be spotted. Many youngsters who know how to play online games tend to give it a try, " a police officer told the newspaper.

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