Chinese police seized more than $1.5 million in cryptocurrencies and arrested six individuals in connection to a crackdown on gambling surrounding the FIFA World Cup, the Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday.
According to the report, authorities in Guangdong province had originally identified an unnamed gambling platform in May that would “accept international recognized cryptocurrencies including bitcoin, ether and litecoin.” An investigation began shortly after, the report said.
It was soon discovered that the platform was a traditional betting platform that was capable of accepting and distributing cryptocurrencies. The platform was also discovered to be based outside of China and used what Xinhua described as “regulatory loopholes” to make a profit.
$1.5 Billion is Thought to Have Been Transacted on the Platform
Roughly 333,000 users are thought to have used the site over the course of eight months, transacting the equivalent of approximately $1.5 billion on the platform.
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Police seized the $1.5 million and arrested the six individuals who are suspected to be the site’s organizers. They also confiscated $750,000 directly from the suspects’ bank accounts.
The task force responsible for identifying and executing the crackdown plan to “maintain a highly concentrated attention” on illegal sports gambling. Gambling is not entirely illegal in China, but gambling platforms must be recognized by the state to be considered legally legitimate.
The Crypto Industry in China Remains Stunted
Chinese authorities began an epic crackdown on the cryptocurrency trading industry at large in September of 2017, starting with a ban on ICO. Within months, domestic cryptocurrency exchanges were forced to shut down their operations.
“China’s clampdown on cryptocurrencies appears to have succeeded,” Bloomberg reported earlier this week. “Yuan-denominated trading in Bitcoin has dropped to below 1 percent of the global volume.”