Taiwan busts “largest online gambling operation in the nation’s history”

taiwan-jiu-zhou-casino-bustOfficials in Taiwan have broken up what they’re describing as the “largest online gambling operation in the nation’s history.”

On Tuesday, Taiwanese authorities announced that over 300 police had conducted raids on 55 locations across the country the previous day. The target of Monday’s raids was an online gambling ring operating as Jiu Zhou Casino, which reportedly handled NT $2b (US $60m) in wagers from Taiwanese punters.

Police detained 53 suspects, including the alleged ringleader, a 35-year-old man named Kao Hung-yu. Kao has reportedly copped to organizing the ring’s illegal lottery and sports betting operations, but has denied taking bets on the Jan. 16 national elections.

Police have called in technical experts to examine the 78 computers seized during the raids in order to determine whether Kao’s claims regarding the election wagers are true. Authorities have expressed concerns that election betting could cause ‘rogue elements’ to attempt to manipulate the election results to their advantage.

Police said the Jiu Zhou Casino site based its technical infrastructure in the Philippines, and Jiu Zhou Technologies International Inc. is indeed licensed by the Philippines’ First Cagayan Leisure & Resort Corporation. Since 2013, Taiwanese lottery retailers have singled out Jiu Zhou sites for offering a superior product than the limited sports lottery options retailers can legally provide.

The bust comes just one day after Taiwanese officials announced the takedown of another online betting ring on Sunday. In that case, police detained 45 individuals over their involvement with a ring that handled NT $1.4b in illegal wagers in 2015, including bets on the elections.

Meanwhile, South Korea has convinced the Philippines to extradite a man accused of operating an illegal online gambling site in China. On Tuesday, South Korean officials announced that a 40-year-old named Lim had been successfully repatriated after making Interpol’s most wanted list in July 2015.

Authorities have accused Lim of setting up an online gambling operation in China’s Shandong province that targeted South Korean gamblers. The site, which changed its domain around 300 times since its May 2013 launch, reportedly had 14k customers who wagered KRW 70.6b (US $59.3m) before the whip came down.

Lim, who is said to have earned 4.8% commission on the wagers his site processed, went on the lam last summer after police launched a crackdown on similar gambling sites. But on Saturday, Lim boarded a flight from China to the Philippines, where immigration authorities detained him before his extradition on Monday.