Shanghai court sentences 20 to prison in online gambling case
A court in Shanghai has sentenced 20 people to prison after convicting them of running an online sports gambling operation worth nearly 1 billion dollars, state media said on Monday, dpa reported.
The syndicate collected a total of 6.6 billion yuan (966 million dollars) in stakes for overseas gambling websites via a network of local agents, the semi-official China News Service said.
It began operating in 2006 for the football World Cup in Germany, the agency quoted prosecutors at the Shanghai Putuo District People's Court as saying.
"This is possibly the country's biggest online gambling case," the official Xinhua news agency court spokesman Zhang Minxian as saying.
The court sentenced ringleader Qian Baochun, 41, to six years in prison on Sunday and fined him 5 million yuan (735,000 dollars), the reports said.
The 19 others convicted of running the illegal gambling were sentenced to between one year and five years in prison.
All 20 defendants pleaded guilty at a hearing last month.
Most forms of gambling remain illegal in China, apart from state-run lotteries and small-scale totalizer-system betting on horse racing in some areas.