On Thursday, Chinese officials shut down an online gambling ring that had accumulated $1.5 billion, or around R14 billion, in bets made on World Cup matches using cryptocurrencies like ethereum, bitcoin, and litecoin.
In a statement first reported by the South China Morning Post, police from China's southern Guangdong province said that they had detained six people who they suspect to be behind the gambling ring.
The gambling ring's website, which could only be accessed by using untraceable search engines, had attracted some 300,000 participants in just eight short months, the Post reports.
In a statement, Chinese officials said that the gambling ring was a pyramid scheme where recruiters could profit off of other members.
"[T]he bookmaker analyses the gambler betting, manipulates the odds according to the bet ratio, and allows a small number of people to win," the statement reads, according to Google Translate.
Some 8,000 "agents" who brought in gamblers apparently profited from the scheme.
The gambling ring is thought to be one of the very first crypocurrency crimes involving a major sporting event to ever occur.
Last week police in Beijing said they had broken up World Cup betting worth 320 million yuan, or around R700 million. A group had apparently advertised odds on popular messaging platforms.
Gambling is prohibited in mainland China outside state lotteries.
Receive a single email every morning with all our latest news: Sign up here.
Also from Business Insider South Africa: