The 2016 European Football Championship has sparked major betting craze across China as thousands of Chinese football fans bet on the games using unregulated online sites.
[dropcap]C[/dropcap]hinese authorities have been cracking down on gambling activities with 543 people arrested and more than £11m seized from betting syndicates during the tournament. Raids to uncover illegal gambling have been taking place across major Chinese cities, including Foshan, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Dongguan and Shantou.
Liang Ruiguo, deputy director of the criminal investigation bureau of the Ministry of Public Security, said: “The soccer betting gang has attracted large sums of wages since Euro 2016 kicked off on June 10. “Special efforts will be made to crack down on gambling fans, bankers, key members and beneficiaries.”
Big investments and star names create a real lure.
Despite the numerous busts, the practice of sports betting in China continues to rise. The popularity of football has grown tremendously in the past few years due in part to Chinese based businesses investing heavily in the domestic and international game.
Assistant professor at the Beijing University of Science and Technology, Hu Naijun said: “With the European Cup everyone’s betting on soccer, but also over the last couple of years China’s soccer market has developed rapidly. Big investments and star names create a real lure.”
Reports suggest Chinese gamblers have taken to mobile applications such as WeChat where a number of gambling groups would gather to take and place high value bets on football matches. Successful bets would then be paid via online money transfer applications such as Alipay, or WeChat red envelopes, money-filled digital wallets.