• Guo Meimei has been sentenced to five years in prison for illegal casino operation.

Guo Meimei has been sentenced to five years in prison for illegal casino operation. (Photo : Weibo)

Guo Meimei, a Chinese Internet celebrity, has been sentenced to serve five years in jail and pay a fine of 50,000 yuan ($7,840) for illegal casino operation, according to an announcement by the Beijing Dongcheng People's District Court on its official Sina Weibo account on Thursday.

The court charged Guo with organizing gambling activities in an apartment.

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In Aug. 2014, Guo was arrested by Beijing police after they cracked down on online football gambling activities. She was held under the suspicion of running illegal gambling activities, engaging in prostitution and posting false information on her website about the 2013 World Cup.

According to prosecutors, Guo organized three gambling sessions in March, June and July at an apartment in Chao-yan District in Beijing. The sessions involved a total of 2.1 million yuan.

Guo admitted to inviting people to the apartment for high-stakes poker games, but denied running an illegal casino. She showed remorse to the court and pled for a lighter sentence as a first-time offender.

According to Zhou Hao, a lawyer from Jia An Law Office in Beijing, "the amount of money and people involved in the gambling activities, and whether the suspect pleads guilty, will affect the verdict. The verdict was stiffer than a similar case because of Guo's influence on society as a celebrity and her attitude."

The trial on Thursday did not include her alleged involvement in prostitution or her relationship with a businessman surnamed Wang, who was arrested in July 2014.

Guo became notorious in 2011 all over the country when she claimed to manage an organization under the Red Cross Society of China (RCSC), as well as flaunting her wealth and high-class lifestyle on her social media accounts.

The scandal tarnished the reputation of the RCSC and caused public concern regarding the embezzlement of charity funds. Donations to the RCSC dropped significantly after the scandal.