Online gambling a huge concern - Saturday 12th of March 2005

About 35 percent of gambling convictions issued in the city this year have been of the online variety, the Shanghai People's Prosecutors' Office revealed yesterday.
"Compared to traditional gambling, online gambling costs less and is more difficult to detect," said Zhu Bochen, a spokesman for the office. "The trend has developed quickly in recent years."

Most online cases involve soccer gambling. Because of its convenience and high profit, it has attracted many punters, prosecutors said.
So far this year, city prosecutors have charged 56 people in 17 gambling cases. These include traditional gambling games such as cards.
Last year, a resident surnamed Hu was charged with organizing online soccer betting by the Yangpu District Prosecutors' Office.

In 2004, the man applied to set up the local agency for a Taiwan-based gambling firm which operated the Baoying Website.
After Hu got the user name and code, he hired unemployed residents to recruit gamblers.
"They were handling 5,150 bets which added up to 4.74 million yuan (US$573,000) in several months," Zhu said. The gang earned 140,000 yuan in profit.
"Such gambling is not restricted by time and space," said Zhu. "Gamblers can contact the agency through the Internet or by telephone at any time."

Prosecutors pointed out an agency can earn much more online than that of traditional gambling. The attraction has lured many to take the risk.

On February 24, 2004, the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court sentenced an online gambling gang to prison. The leader, Feng Zaisheng, a Taiwan native, was sentenced 2 1/2 years in jail. He was the first to be convicted of online gambling charges in the city.
Prosecutors also said gambling gangs were becoming better organized. Individual members usually had their own tasks, such as receiving money, keeping records or contacting gamblers.

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