Police in the Chinese province of Guangdong announced on Thursday that they have disrupted a major World Cup gambling operation that hosted $1.5 billion in cryptocurrency wagers, according to reports from the South China Morning Post. The official statement suggested that authorities had arrested six suspects, seized cryptocurrency assets worth at least 10 million yuan, and frozen their bank accounts.
The gambling ring was apparently operating on the dark web using a platform that provided gambling access to roughly 330,000 registered users. Police say that it operated as a pyramid scheme, with more than 8,000 “agents” who brought in new members in exchange for commission fees.
The police statement claimed that the perpetrators exploited weaknesses in the law to profit from their scheme, suggesting that they ““used the loophole that virtual currency is not effectively regulated in our country.” Despite that claim, the reality is that China remains one of the most restrictive countries in the world when it comes to regulation of the cryptocurrency space. Over the course of the last year, officials have banned ICOs, and taken strong action against the country’s domestic crypto exchanges.
The news comes on the heels of last week’s arrest of dozens of individuals allegedly involved in separate World Cup online gambling operation. Chinese police claim to have arrested 540 individuals, broken up 20 illegal gambling operations, and frozen assets worth 260 million yuan as part of a concerted effort to halt illicit World Cup gambling.