The Chinese government busted up an illegal online gambling ring focused on World Cup betting. Authorities arrested 42 people involved in the ring and removed approximately 320M yuan ($48M USD) from the illegal gambling ecosystem.
Bookies running the operation used apps like WeChat to communicate with patrons and take bets. The article claims that China has the world’s largest base of soccer fans. We have no idea if this is actually true (this chart doesn’t seem to agree), but given China’s overall population size, as well as Chinese hackers ability to infiltrate our servers if we make some snarky joke about that potential Trumpian misuse of data, we’ll just let it slide.
What can’t the Chinese illegally bet on now?
Not much. With (almost) all the favorites falling, 2018 World Cup odds are pretty straightforward now. France has looked the best all tournament and are 2-1 favorites. Our pick since the beginning, Belgium, is 11-4. Thanks to being on the easy side of the bracket, England is 5-2 and Croatia is 5-1.
They’re all pretty evenly matched though, and 538 gives France the best chance of winning the tournament (29%) with England second (27%), Belgium third (26%) and Croatia fourth (18%).
If that’s not boring enough for you, Harry Kane is listed at 1-7 to win the Golden Boot award. However, if England gets knocked out in the semis, Romelu Lukaku (10-1) and Kylian Mbappe (25-1) have longshot potential.