Chinese law enforcement recently reported the arrest of two men in connection with an illegal online gaming operation called “777 Real Casino,” and their company has released an official apology for their actions.
The suspects worked for Baidu, a Chinese/Japanese search engine company which provides what are essentially Asian versions of Google, Wikipedia and other common community services. Baidu employs 6,000 and ranks in the top seven search engines in the world.
Police allege that the owner of 777 Real Casino paid two Baidu employees to work on the website. Though the 777 owner claims that the large sums of money – over $80,000 combined – transferred through to the accused’s accounts were merely for advertising fees, the Chinese government says that the suspects manipulated SEO results and illegally promoted the casino online in order to send more customers to the website.
In a public announcement, a Baidu spokesman said that “This case is a result of the behavior of two individuals and we are very sorry that members of our staff violated national law. Baidu has always obeyed out country’s laws and regulations and we strongly oppose the behaviour of those who use the Internet to engage in criminal activity.”
The Chinese public security ministry reports that the government has now blocked over 1,450 websites providing online casinos in China.
Those seeking online gambling sites in China typically do not visit Chinese gambling websites: With government crackdowns in full effect, these are often fly by night operations. Today more and more foreign-owned Internet casinos cater to Chinese customers.