Gambling is illegal in China, but that didn’t prevent Fan Zheng from betting tens of thousands of dollars online.
The 30-year-old store clerk from the island province of Hainan learned about the opportunity early last year from marketing agents who, Fan believes, contacted him because he played no-stakes online card games.
“They knew I was a potential gambler,” he said.
At first, the agents persuaded him to bet on card games. That added thrill and a chance of making money to something he was already doing for fun.
But the card games were slow, and Fan kept losing. The agents suggested that he try a game called Tencent Every-Minute-Lottery, which generates winning numbers based on the total users logged into a Chinese messaging app. As the name suggests, there is a new chance to win every minute.
Soon he was hooked. Sometimes he bet $1.50. Other times, he bet $10,000.
“The more I played, the bigger amounts I’d bet,” he said.