Police in Thailand have uncovered still more illegal online sports betting operations being run by South Korean nationals.
On Tuesday, the Bangkok Post reported the arrest of six South Korean nationals for running two separate online sports betting operations out of Bangkok apartments. In the first case, police arrested three men and confiscated seven computers, ten phones, five bankbooks and 16 “one-time-password-authentication devices for transactions with foreign banks.”
In the second raid, three different South Koreans were arrested, while police confiscated eight computers, 10 phones and numerous bankbooks. The raids follow a flurry of similar actions in Bangkok and Phuket last week, all of which involved South Koreans setting up Korean-language websites catering to sports bettors back home.
Police still aren’t clear if all these boiler room operations are connected, although the alleged mastermind behind some of the Phuket busts is believed to still be somewhere in Thailand. Meanwhile, those police who have yet to be reassigned are preparing to deport the arrested South Koreans and have relayed info on the identities of the rings’ betting clientele to South Korean authorities.
South Korea allows betting on racing (horse, cycling and boat) and bullfighting, while betting on other sports is limited to the Sports Toto (pari-mutuel) and Sports Proto (fixed-odds) monopolies. However, payout ratios for these monopolies are well below what’s available via internationally licensed online betting sites and South Koreans haven’t hesitated to seek out these more cost-effective alternatives.
South Korea’s National Gambling Commission released a study that claimed the country’s illegal sports betting market was worth KRW 17.5t (US $15.6b) in 2012. The Korean Institute of Criminology claimed this sum jumped to KRW 31t in 2013. The National Assembly Education, Culture, Sports and Tourism committee claimed the number of illegal sports betting cases reported to police was 46,527 in 2013, a six-fold increase from just two years earlier, and over 30k cases have already been reported to police just five months into 2015.