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China Web Star Guo Meimei Jailed for Running Illegal Casino


Chinese internet personality Guo Meimei has been jailed for five years for running an illegal casino.

Guo, 24, ran gambling operations out of private flats she rented in the capital, a Beijing court said.

She made headlines in 2011 after she claimed to work for a company linked to the Chinese Red Cross, while also boasting about luxury cars she owned.

The scandal led to a large drop in donations, despite the charity denying any links to her.

On Thursday, the Beijing Dongcheng People's Court said (in Chinese) that Guo was also fined 50,000 yuan ($7,800; £5,000), while associate Zhao Xiaolai was jailed for two years and fined 20,000 yuan.

Guo had admitted to illegal gambling, but denied running a casino.

Gambling is mostly illegal in mainland China, although it is allowed in Macau and, to a lesser extent, Hong Kong.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Guo Meimei's photos led many to accuse the Chinese Red Cross of extravagance - although the charity denied any links to her

Guo's high profile meant that her case attracted significant attention in China, with the Beijing Dongcheng People's Court posting live updates of most of the proceedings on its Twitter-like weibo microblog.

The hashtag "Guo Meimei Zhao Xiaolai casino trial" was viewed more than six million times on Thursday.

Guo first became notorious in 2011 after posting photos of herself posing with luxury cars and designer handbags while claiming to be "general manager" of the China Red Cross Commerce Department - a company linked to the Chinese Red Cross.

The Chinese Red Cross - which was already facing accusations of misusing donations - denied any connection to Guo, but the charity still experienced a 60% drop in donations that year.