Government says the growing, but illegal, industry is moving large amounts of money offshore

China plans to crack down on online gambling, saying the industry, which is illegal in the country but is growing rapidly, is moving large amounts of money offshore.

The campaign, which will last until August, will be carried out by eight government agencies, including the Ministry of Public Security, the central bank and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, according to the Web site of the People’s Daily newspaper.

Online gambling “has caused large cash outflows from the country and seriously disturbed social and economic order,” said a statement posted on the Public Security Ministry’s Web site.

The campaign aims to “bust a number of syndicates from home and abroad that collude to organise gambling activities on the Internet and severely punish the illegal rings,” it said.

Authorities will also clamp down on underground banks and third-party payment platforms that provide cash transfer services for gambling sites, as well as Internet operators that provide Web access services.

“[We] will clean up gambling information and Web sites across the board,” the statement said.

The campaign is the latest in a series of steps the government has taken to strengthen control over Internet use, which is expanding at a rapid pace in China. The country has the world’s largest online population with at least 384 million users, according to official figures.