Due to some curious geographical quirk, Asian nations are not allowed to send teams to the UEFA European Championships. Instead, Asian nations are relegated to the Anti-Euro 2012, a contest decided by seeing which country’s police forces can arrest more bookies. Today, we’ll see Vietnam take on Thailand, and Malaysia duke it out with local rival Singapore. For obvious reasons, we’ll refer to this as the Group of Death.
First up is Vietnam, where the Ministry of Public Security has banned 181 betting domains and 195 IP addresses for the duration of Euro 2012. Hi-Tech Criminal Unit director Nguyen Thanh Hoa admits this is akin to trimming one’s fingernails; they just grow back. “About 30 new betting websites open every day. It is hard to manage all of them at the same time.” Viet Nam News suggested online betting was “out of control and popular,” a slogan we expect some company will immediately adopt as their own. The site also quoted a punter enthusiastically endorsing online betting as “safe and easy.”
Safer than patronizing one of the many small businesses in Vietnam whose list of goods and services provided has recently acquired a betting option. Coffee shops, internet cafes, photocopy shops… if you’ve got a back room and some TV sets, you’re in business. Tuoi Tre News visited one of these shops in Ho Chi Minh City just before France took on England and counted 20 people placing bets in a 10-minute period.
But draw too big a crowd and you’ll likely draw the eyes of the authorities. HCMC police detained 40 people who’d gathered to watch Portugal take on Denmark, another 60 people and VND 60m ($28.5k) before Netherlands v. Germany, and dozens more on Tuesday watching England v. Ukraine. In Da Nang, police detained 35 people and VND 50m. All in all, a strong showing by Vietnam.
In Thailand, Pattaya police raided the Maggie Mays restaurant after an undercover agent determined the proprietors had put online gambling on the menu. Pattaya Daily reports that police swooped in during Portugal v. Netherlands, arresting the owner, British citizen Anthony James Macnolly, who reportedly confessed that he’d been hosting online gambling for foreign customers for over a decade.
RESULT: Vietnam was definitely the more active squad, but couldn’t withstand Thailand’s surprise inclusion of a European as the corruptor of local morality. Thailand gets the nod.
Next, we have Malaysia, where police in Johor Baru broke up a betting operation that was handling weekly turnover of RM 10m ($3.1m) – 6m on football, 2m each on horseracing and numbers. The New Straits Times reported that the operation was run out of an apartment by two Singaporean bookies, each of whom faces up to five years in jail for violating the Common Gaming House Act. The pair is also suspected of abusing their social visit passes. (Gee, you think?) The police arrested a local bookie handling RM 1.5m ($470k) each week and another local handling RM 900k/week.
Across the Straits of Johor in Singapore, Channel News Asia says police arrested a 53-year-old man for “making multiple telephone calls and behaving suspiciously at a coffee shop.”(If that were grounds for arrest in North America, they might finally rid themselves of that hipster infestation.) Mr. Suspicious was later discovered to be carrying detailed football betting records and over $5k in cash.
RESULT: Singapore was lacklustre in its own end, but since Malaysia’s biggest score wouldn’t have been possible without Singapore supplying the bookies, Singapore survives to arrest another day.