Details emerge of foiled China online gambling ring

A man walks past giant footballs in Beijing
Image caption China's football team did not make it to the World Cup in South Africa

Details have emerged of a Chinese gang accused of running a sophisticated online betting network in the run-up to the World Cup, state media reports.

The gang, which was broken up last month, is alleged to have accumulated more than 100bn yuan (£9.7bn; $14.8bn).

China had pledged to crack down on online football gambling during the championships in South Africa.

Gambling is banned in China, although small bets can be placed through state-run lotteries.

The alleged ringleader of the gang went by the name "Dark Brother".

Chinese newspapers said he was arrested as he left what was described as "a cocaine-fuelled nightclub party" last month in Shenzhen, the sprawling metropolis that neighbours Hong Kong.

The alleged kingpin, who is from Hong Kong, is accused of running a tightly-organised network that stretched across southern and eastern China, taking bets over the internet.

An accomplice known as "Old Cat" allegedly helped run the operation from an apartment where she lived with her child.

"The ringleader of a gambling gang? I never saw that!" was the reaction from local officials when told of her arrest.

Gambling is illegal in China, but the Chinese Centre for Lottery Studies estimates that more than $87bn is gambled by Chinese punters through offshore betting networks.

China's football team did not make it to the World Cup, but that didn't dampen the enthusiasm of fans, many of whom were keen to bet on the matches.

As China debates why its national football team's performance is so dismal, the state news agency Xinhua has warned that the country has little chance of creating football legends in an environment full of gambling, fraud, greed and ignorance.

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