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Chinese police in Maoming, in southeastern China’s Guangdong province, announced that they had cracked a gambling gang with an online soccer gambling operation focusing on the World Cup and using cryptocurrencies totaling $1.5 billion (CNY 10 billion).

The Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department arrested six members of the gang in simultaneous raids in Shenzhen and Guangzhou and in close coordination with local law enforcement in the southwestern cities of Chengdu and Guiyang, and central Changsha. The sweep involved 21 public security authorities.

“The local police also found that multiple gambling gangs used the online social platform to promote the gambling platform during the World Cup,” the report said.

In all, the police arrested at least 540 individuals suspected to be involved in organized online gambling rings. It is illegal to gamble under Chinese law, and the act of participating in online gambling or operating a gambling platform will result in criminal charges.

The online gambling platform is reported to have attracted more than 330,000 members in the eight months since its launch. The platform supported betting in Bitcoin, Ether and Litecoin.

Li Chunsheng, deputy governor and director of the Public Security Bureau, ordered a crackdown against the criminal gangs after receiving reports about their illegal operations. The Guangdong police quickly set up a task force to list online gambling crimes for investigation.

The police said they were able to seize assets totaling $750,000 (CNY5 million) and confiscated virtual currency worth over $1.5 million (CNY10 million).

According to the Guangdong police, most of the website categories are gambling websites such as “Crown," "New] Lisboa” and “Yongli.” The gamblers can log on to the site and place bets by downloading the app on their mobile phones.

It added the online gambling crime gangs are tightly organized, mostly pyramid-style organizational structures with recruiting agents at various levels and developing members at multiple levels as well as making a profit from the network among the member's bet amounts.

"The bookmaker analyzes the gambler betting, manipulates the odds according to the betting ratio and allows a small number of people to win, most of them get rid of the gap to get the difference. Some of the gambling personnel were deeply involved, which led to bankruptcy and even illegal crimes such as theft and robbery, which brought huge hidden dangers to public security” the police reported.