Police across Guangdong province detained more than 540 suspected gamblers after breaking up 20 organized groups suspected of running soccer betting operations online during the ongoing FIFA World Cup competition.
According to a statement released by the Guangdong Department of Public Security on Thursday, police also eliminated more than 70 apps and websites and shut down 250 online social media chat groups during the campaign.
The campaign, which focuses on stopping online soccer betting, will continue until the World Cup ends on Sunday. It was launched simultaneously in 21 prefecture-level cities in the province after the World Cup kicked off in mid-June.
"Soccer betting and other online gambling usually reach a peak in Guangdong during the World Cup periods, and police should redouble their efforts," the statement said.
Police have frozen more than 260 million yuan (39.0 million U.S. dollars) worth of assets suspected of being connected to betting on World Cup matches or other online gambling events. Many bank cards, severs, mobile phones and computers were seized during the campaign, the statement said, adding that a heavy blow has been dealt to the region's online gambling operations.
In Maoming, a coastal city in western Guangdong, police cracked down on a major online soccer betting operation that used bitcoin and involved more than 10 billion yuan (1.5 billion U.S. dollars). Police were tipped off about the operation in May. The platform had attracted more than 330,000 bettors from around the world in eight months.
The gambling platform required new members to have a referee to help them register, and they were asked to provide a bank account number and mobile phone. New members' accounts would be closed if they failed to place a bet within a week after registration.
The Guangdong police detained six key members of the soccer betting syndicate in a special operation launched earlier this month in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, as well as in Chengdu, Sichuan province; Guiyang, Guizhou province; and Changsha, Hunan province.
A large number of vehicles, bank cards and other gambling tools, plus 10 million yuan (1.5 million U.S. dollars) in virtual currency were seized in the operations.
In Zhaoqing, Guangdong, police also detained 110 suspects after busting another major online gambling ring in early July. Police froze 20 million yuan (3.0 million U.S. dollars) worth of capital used for online gambling.