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China celeb faces jail for gambling

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Notorious Internet star formally charged with running illegal casino

One of China's most high-profile social media celebrities Guo Meimei may get up to 10 years in jail for allegedly running an illegal gambling den, China's official Xinhua news agency reported.

She has almost two million followers on Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter, where she posted pictures of her posing by a jet ski in a bikini and by a Lamborghini.

It was careless posts to her followers that tipped off police about her illicit activities.

Guo said last June on her microblog that she would see whether she "could play a role" in the World Cup as it was about to get under way in Brazil.

She has been charged with operating a gambling house, according to Dongcheng district people's procuratorate in Beijing on Thursday.

The charge dates back to last July, when Beijing police uncovered an Internet football gambling gang allegedly headed by Guo during the World Cup.

They said that she allegedly opened accounts with overseas gambling websites, placed bets over the phone and through WeChat.

"We have solid evidence to prove Guo and her friend, Zhao Xiaolai, organised others to engage in gambling on many occasions," said a statement by Dongcheng district people's procuratorate, reported the Shanghai-based Eastday news website.

"The circumstances were so serious that the suspects should be held accountable."

Guo was also suspected of being involved in the sex trade and publishing fake information on a website she set up overseas, reported Eastday.

In August, she was arrested on suspicion of running a casino, CNN reported.

After her arrest, she made a televised confession detailing a life of illegal gambling and paid-for-sex that was splashed across the Chinese front pages.

The 23-year-old had earlier gained notoriety when she claimed to be a manager of an organisation connected with the Red Cross Society of China while openly flaunting her wealth and extravagant lifestyle on social media in 2011.