Chinese online gambling ring handled $13b in wagers

china-online-gambling-ringChinese authorities have indicted 17 individuals accused of acting as agents for Macau-based online gambling websites serving mainland punters. The agents were arrested in July 2012 after being in operation for a year, during which time the agents’ mainland clients reportedly wagered billions of yuan with eight online gambling sites. The Global Times reported the ring’s total handle as RMB 80b (US $13b), while Shanghai Daily put the figure at RMB 63.3b ($10.3b).

According to prosecutors, gamblers were directed to sites run by the outfit, which connected to other sites located off the mainland, through which the gamblers could play baccarat and wager on football matches. Records seized in last July’s arrests revealed 40 to 50 regulars who made use of the agents’ services, although the total number of gamblers is unknown. Each agent held an account via which the players would make deposits and cash out winnings, although the precise mechanism by which the ring moved the funds out of the country remains unclear.

The ringleader, a 36-year-old Shanghai resident named Shou Fei, personally recruited five of his co-indicted, some of which subsequently recruited other sub-agents. Shou reportedly earned RMB 11m ($1.8m) during his year of fun, while his subordinates testified that they earned anywhere from RMB 2k to RMB 2m. According to the ring’s accountant, some members earned a 1.2% commission of their gamblers’ losing wagers.

No sentences were handed down during Thursday’s hearing at the Huangpu District People’s Court in Shanghai, but 10 of the indicted have been charged with the equivalent of operating a casino, which carries a sentence of up to three years in prison. Shou and one other agent are facing possible 10-year sentences due to their activities having taken place while the pair was on probation for operating a different casino.