Chinese authorities have busted what is reportedly the country's biggest online gambling ring, which allegedly handled bets of more than 70 billion yuan ($11 billion), according to state media.
The Shanghai-based gang ran a website linked with overseas gambling sites which allowed Chinese users to play online card games and bet on sport, including European football matches, the Global Times newspaper said.
Shanghai police broke up the ring in July, seizing 13 million yuan and arresting more than 50 people after a three-month investigation, it said.
The group was estimated to have handled bets estimated to be worth more than 70 billion yuan in the January to July period this year, the newspaper said, describing it as China's biggest such case by value.
The gambling website used overseas servers while its more than 20 allied websites were mainly based in Southeast Asia and operated by overseas Chinese, the official Xinhua news agency and the Global Times said.
"The ring had a very bad effect on society," the Global Times quoted Qu Weifang, chief engineer of a Shanghai police unit dedicated to cyber crime, as telling reporters.
"We have found office workers and university students who have gambled away all of their money."
Police could not be immediately reached for comment on Friday.
China's ruling communist party banned gambling as one of the evils of the old society after it took power in 1949.
But Macau, a former Portuguese colony which is now a special administrative region of China, boasts the world's biggest gambling hub with casinos that are popular with mainland Chinese visitors.
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