Police in China have busted a $4.6million gambling ring that was running a sophisticated operation involving losing sportsbetting accounts – resulting in mass arrests and seizures across the country.
The sportsbetting syndicate was short-lived but extremely lucrative, the basic premise being that losing accounts would be offered huge incentives to keep gambling, and if “played” correctly this offered a significant edge.
The cunning ploy was hatched by an internet café owner in the city of Wenzhou, “Shi” having lost large sums on various online sportsbooks.
Realising that the incentives he was offered in the wake of his losses were substantial – cashback on losses, unlimited withdrawals, bigger bet sizes, and instant betting features among them – “Shi” began to source multiple losing accounts.
Using website ads to recruit potential account holders, “Shi” would pay daily rates of between 1,000 yuan (US$156) to 5,000yuan (US$782) each day for providing access to their accounts.
Soon he had access to 200 accounts, some of which required facial recognition, which led him to offer accommodation in his father’s villa as part of the deal.
Soon the operation was expanded beyond Wenzhou city, a Hainan Province-based gambler called “Wang” involved in the scheme, using his own network of gamblers and sports betting analysts.
This team would travel to events across Southeast Asia and Europe in order to exploit the instant-betting functions afforded to the big “losing” accounts.
This on-the-spot gambling allowed them to place bets faster than the odds could be officially changed via the live feeds, thus giving them a huge and almost unbeatable edge.
Clever as the scheme may have been, all forms of gambling in China are illegal outside of state-run lotteries, and crackdowns are very common and hard-hitting.
“Shi” – whose team looked after the account holders – and “Wang” – who was responsible for the travel and betting – along with 67 others were arrested, with $3million in funds frozen and 136 mobile phones and 36 computers also seized.
As we reported back in 2018, China banned online poker apps – even those that were only offering play money – as well as outlawing the promotion of the game on social media.
This in turn led to problems for large online sites, with PokerStars cancelling its live events shortly afterwards.
Casino giants, Crown Resorts, also fell foul of the Chinese crackdown when their attempts to woo high-rollers to their Australian venues led to multiple arrests and lawsuits.
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