Chinese Internet Sports-Betting Ring Busted, 28 Sentenced to Prison

20 August 2007

A group of people involved in Shanghai's largest online soccer betting ring have been sentenced to up to 32 months in prison in Pudong New Area People's Court.

The 28 defendants were found guilty of accepting bets online worth nearly 100 million yuan ($13.16 million) during the FIFA World Cup in 2006. Gambling was outlawed on the mainland in 1949 when New China was founded.

According to Xinhua news agency, the ringleader, Fang Changli, procured a gambling account through an agent for an overseas gambling Web site with the help of co-defendant Sun Ye in March 2006.

Fang subsequently recruited co-defendant Yu Zhengqiu, who was in charge of luring people to the site, while Sun facilitated the transactions between Fang and the site, the court said.

Reports do not indicate when all of the busts took place, but police reportedly apprehended two of the defendants after they had received a tip on Dec. 4, 2006, regarding a group of people who were seen gambling on soccer games in a bar on more than one occasion. Police then seized a laptop from the defendants, which strengthened the evidence against the defendants.

On March 1, 2006, China implemented new Internet regulations in an attempt to limit pornography, spam, viruses, gambling fraud and other undesirable activities. The law bans citizens younger than 18 from Internet cafes, discos and karaoke bars, and prohibits government staff from running entertainment venues.