8 years imprisonment for Chinese gambling webmaster

Sentence on the alleged ringleader of an online gambling operation which provided gambling services to Chinese punters from a Myanmar-based centre has been confirmed by a superior court, sending the defendant to jail for 8 years, and fining him 20 million yuan (about $3 million US) reports the Chinese news agency Xinhua.

Officials at the Yunnan High People's Court told the agency that Hong Kong resident Tam Chi-wai set up a gambling house in Myanmar in 1999 and then started to develop an online betting network. He and this accomplices established several gambling Websites and placed the computer servers in Guangzhou and Dongguan in the southern Guangdong Province.

One of the Websites attracted 5 198 registered users from August 2006 to March 2007, and the enterprise achieved turnover of 8.68 billion yuan in wagered money and more than 278 million yuan in illegal profits

The case is believed to be the China's biggest online gambling case, with the network employing over 3 000 people. Some employees managed Websites while others took charge of maintaining the betting network, whilst other members held hundreds of different bank accounts to hide illicit earnings.

In June, the Intermediate People's Court in Kunming, the provincial capital, gave Tam an eight year jail term and a 20 million yuan fine, but he appealed the sentence. The provincial high court upheld the initial sentence.

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