Arrests have been made in China of 14 suspected members of a “gambling group” allegedly linked to five betting websites said to be based in the Philippines, reported state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV).
Police in China’s Anhui province estimated the online operation – allegedly aimed at Chinese consumers – had taken nearly CNY10 billion (US$1.57 billion) in wagers over the past three years, reported CCTV on Monday.
Chen Liqun, from the public security bureau of Anhui’s Dongzhi county, said investigations indicated the “actual operation location” of the five gambling websites was in the Philippines.
He said the sites had in aggregate over 200,000 “member” patrons throughout mainland China.
The 14 detentions on suspicion of “cross-border gambling” were spread across the Chinese provinces of Jiangxi and Fujian, and the municipality of Chongqing, said Mr Chen. The arrests were targeted at those who had allegedly assisted in the operation of the gambling websites, and in the settling of the wagers from players.
The case was still under further investigation, he added.
The Ministry of Public Security said last week, that a six-month, nationwide, “special initiative” against cross-border gambling had been launched during March.
It is said to be focusing on the financing network within the mainland that allegedly supports cross-border gambling activities, and on either shutting down or blocking gambling websites and phone applications.
The mainland authorities have outlined on a number of occasions recently, their effort to suppress cross-border gambling. In a statement released in January, China’s Ministry of Public Security said the authorities had dismantled more than “2,200 Internet gambling platforms” in 2021, as well as more than “1,600 illicit payment platforms and underground banks”.
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