|In China, the ringleader of a major online gambling operation in Liaoning Province has been given a 15-year prison sentence along with a $5.8 million fine.|
The People’s Court of Shuncheng convicted Yang Xu of operating an illegal business and running a gambling house. In addition, the Court handed down fines totalling almost $22 billion to 41 other offenders, many of which were relatives.
Yang reportedly founded the online gambling group with his wife in 2005 and grew the business to take in a reported $847 million a year and employ over 100 people by the time police in Liaoning were alerted to its existence on June 16. Following the arrests, officials confiscated the operation's gambling money and devices.
'The growing number of property confiscations and fines in illegal gambling convictions shows China is moving toward international practice in its fight against illegal gambling,' said Zhang Qingming, a lawyer with the Liaoning Lawyers Association.
He stated that Chinese courts previously issued heavy criminal penalties but rarely handed out fines or confiscated property. In addition, Shenyang-based newspaper Chinese Business Morning View, reported that 25 of those arrested had been convicted of operating an illegal business and running gambling operations, a charge they would have been unlikely to face in the past.
'It is a signal the nation has strengthened punishments for online gambling,' said Qingming.
Zhu Chuang, Vice-Procurator-General of the Shuncheng Procuratorate, stated that online gambling causes greater harm than ordinary gambling because it often involves larger sums of money. He said that many gambling websites' servers are in foreign countries meaning that large amounts of money flows out of China through illegal financial institutions and create a serious threat to the nation's financial security.
'Fighting against online gambling is a new challenge,' said Chuang.