GUANGZHOU, July 4 -- Sixty-eight people in south China's Guangdong Province have been given jail terms ranging from one year and five months to nine years in the country's largest online gambling case, a local court said Friday.
The gambling ring illegally opened online casinos and attracted bets valued at 484 billion yuan (78 billion U.S. dollars) from March 2008 to April 2013, the Liwan district people's court in the provincial capital of Guangzhou said in a statement.
The court Thursday ordered the 68 to pay fines ranging from 50,000 yuan to 20 million yuan.
Of those convicted, 55 were found guilty of opening online casinos, seven guilty of gambling and six guilty of both crimes, it said.
The online betting ring operated via overseas gambling websites including "Huangguan"and "Yongligao." They used the overseas websites to lure gamblers to place bets and took commissions from them.
According to prosecutors, the ring was run within a circle of friends and relatives like a pyramid selling scheme. Among the accused were several white collar workers.
Gambling has been outlawed on the Chinese mainland since 1949, but in recent years, sports events such as the World Cup have proved too tempting for betting fans.