World Cup of Preventing World Cup Betting extends to Hong Kong prisons

hong-kong-prisoners-world-cup-bettingAs athletes and football fans anxiously gear up for Thursday’s kickoff of the 2014 FIFA World Cup, police forces across Asia are anxiously gearing up for the 2014 World Cup of Preventing World Cup Betting. In Malaysia, police have let it be known that undercover agents will be sniffing around internet cafés, coffee shops and other places where football fans are likely to congregate, looking for any signs of illegal wagering. A senior Penang police official told The Star that “cyber experts” at the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission would help police “flush out [online] syndicate runners and middlemen.”

In Thailand, the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) has ordered the nation’s eight top electronic money service providers to be on guard for signs of illegal wagering activity. The AMLO warned these payment processors that failure to report suspicious transactions could leave them liable for significant fines. A recent survey found that around 12% of Thais plan to wager on this year’s World Cup, with 21% of these betting directly with a bookie, 12% via a middleman and 16% betting online.

In Hong Kong, a source told Sing Tao Daily that local betting turnover on this year’s World Cup is expected to top HKD 30b ($3.9b). While some of this will be wagered legally with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the source said at least HKD 10b would be wagered with just five local illegal bookies (or perhaps four, given this weekend’s takedown of a major Hong Kong/Guangdong betting operation).

Turnover of a different kind was recently detailed by Hong Kong’s Correctional Services Department (CSD), which confiscated 6,658 packs of cigarettes it claims represented HKD 1m ($129k) in prison wagering currency. Cell raids also turned up 62 football betting slips, for which 46 inmates have been disciplined. Speaking of discipline, prisoners will only get to watch two World Cup matches on television due to the time difference between Hong Kong and Brazil. Regardless, the Hong Kong Standard reported that CSD guards plan to increase the number of cell raids because, clearly, where there’s a will, there’s a way.