Chinese Bust World Cup Betting Ring Worth $1.5 Billion
Chinese police in Guangdong province busted a World Cup betting ring worth $1.5 billion in crypto-currency bets, according to a statement in China’s media this week. The investigation located the gambling syndicate on the dark web, where sports bettors made wagers using virtual currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin.
The betting ring includes over 300,000 different bettors from many different countries. Signups were handled by as many as 8,000 “agents”, who earned commissions on signups using a pyramid scheme-style system, according to the South China Morning Post.
The World Cup is always peak time for sports bettors worldwide. The quadrennial football tournament involves the most popular sport in the vast bulk of the world’s countries. World Cup football involves all of the world’s top players playing football for the highest stakes possible — a chance at Association football immortality.
World Cup Bookmaker Bets
World Cup football betting is often for the highest stakes, as well. One Malaysian poker pro (Paul Phua) set up sports betting rings in Hong Kong and Las Vegas during the 2014 Brazilian World Cup — and was busted operating both World Cup gambling rings.
China announced it would stepping up efforts to stop illegal sports betting rings during the 2018 World Cup. Illegal gaming operators skirt hundreds of millions of dollars in Chinese taxes. Since those operators often have ties to Chinese organized crimes, such profits also fuel crime in China.
$1.5 Billion Sports Betting Ring
With the rise of the Chinese middle class, one could expect a huge uptick in illegal sports betting on the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Sure enough, while Paul Phua’s 2014 Hong Kong betting ring was worth several hundred million dollars, the 2018 Guangdong betting ring was worth $1.5 million in US dollars.
So far, Guangdong authorities have arrested 540 people associated with the World Cup sports betting ring. Police have frozen more than 260 million yuan in gambling assets, or roughly $40 million in US dollars.
First Chinese All-Virtual Currency Sports Betting Ring
This is the first big bust by Chinese anti-gambling officials which has involved the widespread use of crypto-currency. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin are the three most popular forms of virtual currency used in the global online gambling economy.
Why Chinese Triads Use Crypto-Currency
In the old days, bookies would take wagers offline and launder the money through a variety of traditional businesses. These days, even traditional organized crime organizations which run sports betting rackets prefer to run the gaming action through an offshore online sportsbook.
With that in mind, the Chinese triads used the dark web to use offshore bookmaker sites to gamble their bettors’ money. In such cases, crypto-currencies offer the fastest, most private, and trusthworthy ways to move around such cash. Crypto-currency exchanges tend to have a high level of anonymity, while providing the transparency of a blockchain payment.
2018 World Cup Final: France v. Croatia
France takes on Croatia in the 2018 World Cup Final at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia on Sunday. France is a -110 moneyline favorite, meaning you would need to wager $110 to receive $100 in payouts. France is a 2-1 favorite in a point spread bet. French stars like Paul Pogba, Nabil Fekir, Kylian Mbappe, and Thomas Lemar are among Europe’s elite players. Antoine Griezmann, Blaise Matuidi, and N’Golo Kante add veterans to steady France.
Croatia is a +360 World Cup underdog. Croatia is playing on one day less rest and has come through three extra time matches in a row. That amounts to an addition match in the knockout stages.
Who Wins between France and Croatia?
France already would have been a favorite in most situation, but Croatia is a savvy team with veteran midfielders. In fact, the midfield battle between N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, and Blaise Matuidi on the French side and Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic on the Croatian side should be the pivotal battle.
Croatia’s squad should not be underestimated, even though it is the second-smallest nation to reach a World Cup final. Dejan Lovren is a world class defender and Juventus’s Mario Mandzukic gives the team an old-fashioned striker. Ivan Perisic is a winger, but he sometimes drops back into an attacking midfield position, which is a definite possibility on Sunday.