The 2014 FIFA World Cup has been very, very good to China’s Sports Lottery (and very, very bad to Macau casinos). Online sports lottery sales are on pace to set an impressive new revenue benchmark this year but the amount of World Cup wagering Chinese punters are devoting to unauthorized online gambling sites is likely growing even faster. Researchers at Peking University’s China Center for Lottery Studies says the volume of annual betting turnover going to international online gambling sites tops RMB 600b (US $97b) annually.
Meanwhile, Asian police forces continue to try to stamp out these online wagers as fast as they’re placed. In Malaysia, police in the southern city of Johor Baru have arrested 60 individuals believed to be bookies and agents of a betting syndicate that handled RM 1.4m ($436k) in wagers since the World Cup began two weeks ago. In addition to the arrests, police seized mobile phones, tablets and around $35k in cash. So far this World Cup, police in the state of Johor have conducted 241 betting-related raids as part of the countrywide Ops Saga betting crackdown.
In Thailand, police have collaborated with the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology to identify 1,018 football betting websites. Of these, police claim to have shut down 707 but new sites continue to spring up like weeds.
In Vietnam, the authorities have teamed with internet service providers to block over 1,300 international betting sites while the State Bank of Vietnam is monitoring accounts for signs of betting related activity. In Hanoi, Tuoi Tre News reported that police arrested seven people on Thursday who ran a betting ring that handled VND 7.6b ($356k) in World Cup wagers. On Saturday, Hanoi police arrested 33 individuals who were caught gambling via computers at a snooker shop in Hanoi, seizing VND 143m ($6,700) in the process.