BEIJING, June 24 (Xinhaunet) -- A campaigner against soccer gambling is calling for harsher penalties and more initiatives from the government to keep a lid on the growing illegal industry.
Known in the media as China's number one grassroots anti-gambling campaigner, Ren Jie, 39, told METRO on Wednesday that more than 100 football gamblers and their worried relatives had contacted him from all over the country since the World Cup started to share their heart-wrenching stories about how soccer gambling ruined their lives.
One woman from Tianjin told him that her husband, who was addicted to soccer gambling, had lost more than 100,000 yuan before the World Cup even began.
And once the competition got started, her husband suddenly left home after borrowing more money for illicit gambling. She said she is so desperate that she wants to divorce him and end the nightmare.
And another netizen, from Xiamen, Fujian province, told him he had lost 200,000 yuan on the World Cup, said Ren.
The campaigner said there are all too many similar stories of savings being wiped out and families being torn apart.
And Ren knows what he is talking about. Back in the early 2000s, he owned an exhibition company, two apartments, a car and had nearly two million yuan in his bank account.
Gambling changed all that and he lost more than a million yuan during the 2002 World Cup.
What started out as a bit of fun among colleagues at work ended in heavy debts two years later.
During his darkest days, he says he was on the brink of suicide.