Mainland Chinese police arrested 98 people linked to online gambling networks that handled US$78 billion in bets, state media said, the latest in a series of moves to control illegal activity on the internet.
Police in the provinces of Hunan and Guangdong have shut down 12 “gambling dens” since July, but only now announced the arrests, Reuters reported, citing the Xinhua news agency.
The people arrested were suspected of “involvement in an online gambling network that has opened more than 500 online casinos, attracting a million members”, Xinhua said. It said an investigation is ongoing.
Gambling has been illegal in mainland China since 1949, though a state lottery does operate.
China is the world’s largest internet market by number of users.
It has launched periodic operations to combat illegal online behavior.
Recent moves have coincided with a crackdown on online freedom of expression, which has intensified since President Xi Jinping came to power.
In August, police said they had arrested about 15,000 people for crimes that “jeopardised internet security” in a sweep that targeted websites providing “illegal and harmful information” and advertisements for pornography, explosives and firearms, and gambling.
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