A FIFA World Cup gambling ring has been busted by officials in China which had reportedly took in bets worth more than 10 billion yuan or $1.5 billion in cryptocurrency bets. The authorities are said to have arrested six individuals linked to a web-based crime syndicate that’s connected to the dark web. Cryptocurrencies worth more than 10 million yuan were found in their possession and seized.
The South China Morning Post reported that the gambling platform accepted bitcoin, ethereum, and litecoin from those who wanted to place bets. It also mentions that bets were placed over the course of eight months by more than 330,000 people from across the globe. Over 8,000 people were named as agents in this ring and they earned commissions when they brought in new members.
Gambling is largely illegal in China and this appears to be the first cryptocurrency based gambling ring that the authorities have busted. They have also arrested more than 500 suspects so far and frozen 260 million yuan or about $39 million in cryptocurrencies to crack down on bets being placed on FIFA World Cup matches.
The Chinese government hasn’t really opened up to cryptocurrencies the way some other governments have. It shut down all local cryptocurrency exchanges in September last year and also banned initial coin offerings.