On Thursday, Chinese officials shut down an online gambling ring that had accumulated $1.5 billion in bets made on World Cup matches using cryptocurrencies like ethereum, bitcoin, and litecoin.
In a statement first reported by the South China Morning Post, police from China’s southern Guangdong province said that they had detained six people who they suspect to be behind the gambling ring.
The gambling ring’s website, which could only be accessed by using untraceable search engines, had attracted some 300,000 participants in just eight short months, the Post reports.
In a statement, Chinese officials said that the gambling ring was a pyramid scheme where recruiters could profit off of other members.
“[T]he bookmaker analyzes the gambler betting, manipulates the odds according to the bet ratio, and allows a small number of people to win,” the statement reads, according to Google Translate.
The gambling ring is thought to be one of the very first crypocurrency crimes involving a major sporting event to ever occur.