Chinese WeChat Gambling Ring Bust

Published By Mia Gardner : 26 Jul 2018 | Last Updated: 24 Dec 2020

Chinese investment conglomerate holding company Tencent’s social media chatting platforms WeChat and QQ are the latest targets in a line of crack-downs on illegal gambling activities by the ever-vigilant Chinese Police force. Police records indicate that over the course of a year, at least 77 people have been arrested after having engaged repeatedly in illicit online gambling activities on the social media platforms.

According to reports by a prominent news agency, the largest bet that was placed on the WeChat platform was a very cool US$8.8 million.

Creative Crimes

As is mostly the case in general, it seems that its once again a case of crime will find a way. In China, it’s a popular tradition to hand out red parcels containing money when celebrating special holidays or occasions. Illegal games organisers on the platforms have obviously seen a gap in the market and considered this to be the perfect way to try and avoid illegal gambling red tape, as since 2011, it has become possible to send digital red parcels containing money to recipients over social media platforms.

This is now become the preferred means of money changing hands in illegal gambling activities, making it a very difficult task to pinpoint and investigate the crimes.

Distorting Tradition

The first of the digital red parcel gifts were exchanged on the Weibo platform early during 2011, during the time of the Lunar New Year. It all started out as a relatively innocent gesture of goodwill to send a digital red parcel to a recipient over the social media platform, especially since it was already a common convention in popular Chinese culture.

Not wanting to be left behind, other social media platforms such as WeChat, QQ and Alibaba’s DingTalk soon followed suit. Crime bosses soon identified this as the perfect way of money changing hands for all sorts of purposes, under the guise of the exchanging of gifts.

Many gambling games have been developed by making use of hong bao, the traditional name for the red parcels or envelopes. One of the more popular and common games is by drawing lots of red parcels filled with undisclosed amounts. The last three digits of the amount in the randomly selected red parcel will be tallied together to get to a total. The player who ends up with the biggest total, or the most points, will win the game and the prize will be an amount of money equal to the number of points accumulated. uses cookies to give the best experience possible. Please read our Cookie Policy for more details