A man found to be operating an illegal sports betting operation in violation of Chinese gambling laws has been given a sentence of one year in prison and a fine of 10,000 yuan (about $1,500). A judge stated that this represents the first-ever imprisonment by a Beijing court of anyone on charges related to Internet gambling.
Chinese law enforcement arrested 20-year-old Zhao Yan in March when it was found that he and one other man were worked for an overseas gambling website. Serving essentially as couriers, the men collected at least 7 million yuan ($1.03 million) for mainland Chinese customers.
Zhao could have received a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison, but was granted some clemency by the court due to his helpfulness with police after his arrest. The charge levied on Zhao was “running a casino,” a recently drafted legal violation added to Chinese gambling law in order to punish more online gambling providers more thoroughly than the punters themselves.
“Profiting from online gambling and working as an agent are the key points in prosecuting the suspect of the crime of running a casino,” explained Zhao’s lawyer to the media. “The amount of [money wagered] is a secondary concern.”
Players seeking online gambling sites in China mainly avoid locally-hosted internet casinos due to unreliability and play on foreign-hosted sites instead. One should note that, while Zhao has become the first to be convicted in Beijing of “running a casino,” no individual players have been arrested for playing online at present.