Several media outlets in China are reporting that an investigation has begun in regards to Baidu Inc., the largest search engine firm in China. Reportedly, the search engine was allowing advertisements for illegal gambling sites and employees of the company were profiting from such adverts.
Beijing News reported on the actions of Baidu after conducting an investigation themselves, which took place over a two month time frame. The illegal gambling sites were said to have stolen the names of casinos located in Macau including the Venetian Macao and the Macau Grand Lisboa. The fake links would appear at the top of a search page on Baidu as a commercial message.
Cyberspace Administration of China is the internet regulator in charge, who commented on Monday that they have asked their branch located in Beijing to investigate the issue and findings would be made public in time. The regulator also pointed out that Baidu as well as other firms offering search engine services should not be providing a means to spread information on gambling or other “illicit activities”.
Mainland China does not offer casino gambling as the activity is illegal. However, a sport lottery as well as welfare lottery are provided. Macau is the only area in which individuals will find casino style gambling in the legal sense.
The findings of Beijing News showed that the iGaming sites were using third-party advertising agencies and registering a corporate account with Baidu. The group behind the sites would then act as a real company, but did not have an account with the search engine firm. Links would be posted after 10pm on Baidu and then be removed in the search results before the morning hour of 9am, according to Beijing News findings.
Baidu has released a statement on the matter, with the firm commenting that they had reported the case to the police and are going to assist in collecting evidence.