China’s internet watchdog has ordered an investigation into an alleged scandal involving internet search engine Baidu, which said some companies had used its search results to promote illegal gambling websites at night. The Beijing News reported earlier this week that online betting operators had set up accounts with the search engine giant using the names of legitimate companies and then created links to their services on its website at night. The links to the gambling sites were removed during the day. Gambling is illegal on the mainland. China launches probe into Baidu over paid search listings after student dies following cancer treatment sourced online The corporate accounts opened by the companies had the symbol “V” next to their links, which means they had been verified. They were opened via Baidu’s marketing service agents and there was little verification of the clients’ identity, according to The Beijing News report. Baidu issued a statement on Monday, denying that it had cooperated with gambling operators. It said the links redirecting users to gambling sites had found their way surreptitiously into its search results at night. Baidu ordered to change how it operates by China’s internet watchdog after death of student The Cyberspace Administration has asked its Beijing branch to investigate and warned search engine firms against advertising illegal gambling, according to a statement posted on its website on Monday night. It also called on Baidu to fulfil its social responsibility and not to become a promotion channel for gambling. The internet giant said it had referred the offending companies to the police and was assisting authorities to collect evidence. To further dispel any suspicion that it had cooperated with the gambling operators, Baidu claimed that it blocked more than 8,000 illegal gambling sites and prevented more than 7,000 gambling keywords from appearing in its search results during the first three months this year. It is the second time Baidu has been investigated by the administration this year. Baidu chief says Chinese online search giant must change culture or risk bankruptcy An inquiry was launched in May over the firm’s prominent placement of sponsored health care providers in its search results. The investigation came after the death of a 21-year-old cancer patient who lost critical time to find a cure by opting for an experimental treatment at a hospital that paid to be listed high on Baidu listings.