Chinese messaging and online payment app WeChat has deleted 50,000 accounts and another 8,000 group chats discussing gambling since the current football World Cup kicked off in Russia last month.
WeChat developer Tencent issued a statement on Monday detailing its anti-gambling measures and urging users not to engage in any World Cup betting activities via its hugely popular app, which is estimated to have almost one billion users worldwide.
“During the World Cup, World Cup gambling websites have been shut down by the government, causing some betting activities to migrate to social platforms,” WeChat said. “We appeal to the majority of users to watch the World Cup rationally, to appreciate the competitive nature of football and respect the spirit of the game, and keep away from gambling.”
While most forms of gambling remain illegal in China, World Cup betting is allowed via the China Sports Lottery Management Centre. Only last week the China Sports Lottery Management Centre released figures showing that Chinese gamblers had wagered a massive 28.6 billion yuan (US$4.3 billion) in the three weeks to 1 July 2018 – almost six times more than the roughly 5 billion yuan wagered in the previous three weeks.
The three-week period to 1 July included more than two weeks of World Cup action after the world’s biggest sporting event kicked off on 15 June.
The figure, which doesn’t include the huge numbers gambled illegally, was already more than twice the 11.5 billion yuan wagered through official channels during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.