China's biggest online gambling prosecution opened in the Putuo District People's Court last week with all 20 defendants in the Internet football betting case admitting guilt, reports the Shanghai Daily News.
Prosecutors revealed that the betting ring generated stakes exceeding 6.6 billion yuan (US$965 million), and the gang earned more than 1.6 million yuan from illegal wagers between August 2006 and May 2008.
Due to the guilty pleas, the court adopted simplified procedures that allow a speedier trial. Even so, there was no immediate verdict at the end of the one-day hearing Friday.
All the defendants are locals except for one from Fujian Province and one from Anhui Province, the Shanghai Daily News reports. The defendants, led by 41-year-old Qian Baochun, were charged with operating three betting clubs that were linked to overseas soccer gambling Websites, one of which was in Macau.
Qian and Zou Jun (45) told the court they obtained accounts allowing them to place bets on those sites from friends and started their own online operation when the 2006 World Cup was held in Germany. The pair conspired with six other defendants to develop a network of agents and gamblers and to hire people to help run the operation, prosecutors claimed.
During the period, some of the eight original "investors," whose share of earnings was based on the amount of investment, quit because they "…realised they were in an illegal and dangerous business," according to court testimony. The other defendants were either agents or people hired to operate the scheme.