Cryptocurrencies and blockchain have gone mainstream – and are now used for bets in the World Cup. But while some international stars are launching their own virtual currencies, other people are using them for more nefarious purposes.
World Cup Bookmakers Raking It In
As the World Cup comes to a close, many people have been happy with the last month of international football. Fans across the world have been treated to a competitive competition filled with a lot of surprises.
Betting often goes hand-in-hand with sporting events, and this World Cup has been no exception. Early projections say bookmakers are on track to profit $36.4 billion dollars from the summer competition. Profits in the UK alone are estimated to at least double from the 2014 World Cup.
Many gambling hubs have made a lot of money off of this year’s World Cup, and police have started to crack down on some of them.
Illicit Betting With Cryptocurrency
The Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department announced on July 12th how they busted an online gambling platform that played host to about $1.5 billion dollars worth of bets in virtual currency.
The announcement said the platform only accepted bets in Bitcoin, Ether, and Litecoin. Operators decided to create a multi-tier system where participants could be rewarded for bringing in members and focused on acquiring more digital currency to hedge against losses, i.e. a pyramid scheme.
Authorities said the gambling operation had at least 330,000 members and 611 cryptocurrency wallets. The scheme was able to operate worldwide and gave Chinese participants the option to cash-out their winnings.
According to police, the bust was part of a provincial-wide endeavor to shut down World Cup-related online gambling. Other gambling gangs have been shut down in areas like Fuzhou, Shenzhen, and Zhejiang.
Police across China have issued warnings to citizens about engaging in online betting. Social media posts from police in Beijing assert that 95% of overseas gambling websites are actually just phishing sites. Media in China