As football enthusiasts around the globe immerse themselves in the UEFA European Championship (Euro 2024), Chinese authorities have been actively disrupting a surge of illegal online gambling activities associated with the tournament. In recent weeks, law enforcement across China has reported significant successes in dismantling multiple illicit gambling operations taking advantage of the event’s popularity.

Major arrests and seizures in Beijing:

According to Chinese media reports, the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau has successfully dismantled three online gambling rings, resulting in the arrest of 21 suspects. During the raids, police seized numerous electronic devices, financial records, and other gambling-related items. This swift action highlights the determination of Chinese authorities to curb illegal gambling practices.

In a similar crackdown in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, the Qingbaijiang police apprehended two suspects involved in an illegal gambling operation. This group had reportedly amassed over RMB 400,000 (approximately $54,994) by recruiting individuals to join a WeChat group and sending them betting odds, thereby facilitating illegal gambling activities.

Authorities in Shanghai have uncovered that scammers often create fraudulent betting site links that closely mimic the official Euro 2024 website. These fake sites are designed to deceive users into believing they are accessing a legitimate betting platform. The scammers manipulate the system to ensure initial small wins, luring users into placing larger bets. Once the stakes are high, the site’s backend shuts down, preventing users from retrieving their money.

Furthermore, fraudsters have been sending out fake text messages, claiming to be from the official Euro 2024 website and informing recipients that they have won a prize. These messages direct recipients to click on a link and transfer money to a designated account under the guise of paying taxes or fees. In some cases, personal information is stolen, leading to further financial exploitation.

Public advisory from Beijing police:

The Beijing police have issued a public advisory urging citizens to exercise caution with online gambling activities. They recommend watching games rationally, resisting temptations to participate in illegal gambling, and safeguarding personal privacy. This advisory is part of a broader campaign to maintain public security and order during the Euro 2024 tournament.

In Hong Kong, the crackdown on illegal gambling has also intensified. As of last Monday, 62 individuals had been arrested since the Euro 2024 tournament began in mid-June. As Asia Gaming Brief reports, and according to security minister Chris Tang Ping-keung, the detainees face charges of conspiracy to commit bookmaking and money laundering. Among the arrested, five were identified as core members, 25 as middlemen or facilitators in the bookmaking operations, and 32 as holders of stooge accounts. The total amount involved in these activities exceeds HK$460 million (approximately $58.9 million).

Tang further emphasized that the Hong Kong police have been maintaining close intelligence exchanges with mainland Chinese, Macau, and overseas law enforcement agencies to combat illegal bookmaking and related gambling activities. He noted that from January to May, a total of 181 individuals were arrested for serious gambling offenses.