The Chinese government has launched a massive crackdown aimed at, “cleaning up the internet,” that’s resulted in thousands of arrests across the country, including a few internet gambling operators.

Beginning last month, Chinese authorities began what they’re saying is a six month operation to combat a whole slew of internet crimes including identity theft, credit card fraud and gambling. As of this week, the clean the internet campaign has resulted in more than 15,000 arrests in approximately 7,500 cases.

Included in that number are a number of internet gambling operators who offer everything from standard sports betting to innovative, homegrown games. One game, called Hongbao, acted as a de facto lottery by utilizing a randomizer to send cash prizes to players on a social networking internet app.

Government officials made it clear that they were after internet fraudsters of all sizes ranging from they referred to as, “tigers and flies.”

In a particularly sinister turn, an unknown number of those arrested were charged with the crime of, improper online speech. That group likely included web publishers who had criticized the government.

According to a report on Al Jezeera, as many as 200 free speech advocates may have been included among those arrested. Unfortunately for human rights advocates, government officials are not releasing the names of those who were arrested for improper online speech.

Though the clean the internet program hasn’t netted any foreign nationals (yet), it should serve as a strong warning to those who are considering pointing internet gambling operations at Chinese players. The Chinese are serious about locking down the internet and aren’t afraid of throwing a few thousand people behind bars to make that point.


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