The wild and wacky world of Asian anti-gambling policing

TAGs: India, Kuala Lumpur, taiwan

anti-gambling-policeIndonesian police recently took down an online gambling operation in Jakarta. On Wednesday, the Jakarta Post reported that police arrested six men allegedly behind the operation of, a gambling site police claim had 22k customers across Indonesia and abroad with a daily turnover of Rp300m ($33k). Police also seized seven computers, nine modems, three calculators and a cell phone. The site had apparently been in operation for two years and was advertised on Facebook and popular Indonesian online forum The website owner/ringleader, a man identified only as ‘RH’, is still at large and believed to have fled to China.

Asia is a particularly rich source of odd gambling/crime news. Police in Kuala Lumpur recently announced their growing concern that ‘illegal online gambling syndicates’ running internet-cafe type gambling operations are using remote control devices to shut down international online gambling websites at the press of a button. CID anti-gambling official Datuk Abdul Jalil Hassan told Bernama that “Tontos alerted to police presence will tip off the premises and instantly all computers will be closed or switched to other websites.” Honestly, officer, all these middle-aged med are just here to vote for Malaysian Idol.

The Bangkok Post reported that police in southern Taiwan arrested seven members of a gang that had been kidnapping racing pigeons and holding them for ransom. Pigeon racing is popular in Taiwan and has been linked to underground gambling. The bird-nappers’ modus operandi was to set ‘traps’ along racing routes, then contact the birds’ owners (presumably with a photo of the pigeon soiling today’s newspaper) and demand money. What’s a bird ransom run these days? About TW$5k ($165) per pigeon. At the time of his arrest, the gang’s ringleader was found to in possession of almost 60 birds.

Police in India recently busted a betting ring operating out of a moving car. Operating on a tipoff, police in Vastrapur (in the western state of Gujarat) staked out a number of intersections until the specific Maruti Swift subcompact appeared. Police stopped the car and found two individuals, six cellphones, three SIM cards and a betting log. The busted bookies claimed that police raids on their former stationary sites had inspired them to hit the road.

But police anti-gambling activities aren’t always so precise or professional. A precinct in the Indonesian province of Riau was vandalized following a police action against a suspected bookie. Indonesia’s version of The Simpsons’ Chief Wiggum spotted an old man strolling through a market, jotting down numbers into a book. Knowing bookie behavior when they saw it, the cops arrested and beat the man for protesting his innocence. Except he was innocent, having committed nothing more serious than jotting down product prices for comparison purposes. Um… d’oh?


views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of