Shanghai online gambling bust; Korea TV host given eight months for online bets

TAGs: cybercrime, kim yong-man, Macau, Shanghai, South Korea

shanghai-online-gambling-bust-korea-tv-hostAuthorities in Shanghai have taken down a gambling ring that fed customers to what the police referred to only as a ‘foreign gambling website.’ Police in the Pundong New Area and Jing’an District have detained 99 individuals and seized 54 computers belonging to the ring’s members. Shanghai Daily identified three primary agents who distributed usernames and passwords to new customers, on whose wagers the trio and ring’s subagents earned a 5% commission.

The ring had reportedly only been operating since March but managed to record RMB 180m (US $29.3m) in turnover before their activities were broken up on Tuesday. It’s the second major bust by Chinese authorities this month, following the takedown of a 56-member cross-border gang servicing online punters in Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

In South Korea, television host Kim Yong-man has been given an eight-month sentence for his online gambling activities. Kim made headlines in March when he announced he was stepping down from his onscreen role while police investigated allegations of his illegal online betting on Premier League football, horseracing and other sports. Kim eventually copped to having wagered KRW 1.3b ($1.13m) on at least two online sports betting sites between January 2008 and May 2011.

Kim’s sentence, which was suspended for two years, was pronounced Thursday in Seoul Central District Court by Judge So Byeong-seok, who said the host “deserves condemnation” for failing to live up to his responsibilities as a public figure. The Yonhap news agency quoted the judge saying Kim’s activities were a “heavy crime,” but the court took into consideration the fact that Kim only started gambling out of “curiosity which was stirred up by his colleagues” and had managed to stop betting of his own accord. Kim doesn’t intend to appeal the sentence.

Cybercrime in the world’s top casino jurisdiction has soared in 2013 according to the Macau Public Prosecutor’s Office. Investigators have seen 78 such cases over the first five months of the year, leading to 36 prosecutions. That represents a 55% increase over the same period last year, but it’s unclear whether digital security has gotten worse or whether the authorities are simply getting better at targeting the schemes. In one of the year’s more high-profile cases, a number of VIP gamblers’ casino account passwords were compromised and the gang physically withdrew MOP 15m ($1.87m) from the accounts. Four individuals were eventually arrested in that case, while a similar case resulted in 17 more arrests. In Macau, ‘abetting a crime through the internet’ can result in a prison sentence of up to 10 years.


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