Asian police forces are gearing up for the expected surge in illegal sports betting on the upcoming Euro 2016 football tournament.
This week, authorities in China’s Guangdong province announced that they had recorded 1,573 criminal occurrences regarding illegal betting operations in the period spanning Jan. 1 to May 15, leading to the arrests of some 2,400 individuals.
The vice-director of the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department said his group expects this type of activity to surge during Euro 2016 and is actively coordinating with his counterparts in other regions to ensure their dragnet scoops up as much illegal activity as possible.
Similar preparations are underway across Asia as punters continue to defy outright betting bans and turn up their noses at the poor offerings available to them via state-run sports lottery operations.
In Thailand, police have set up an ad hoc center to coordinate their anti-betting activity, which will include placing plainclothes officers in popular hangouts during matches to identify any illegal wagering. They’ll also play the usual game of website whack-a-mole (they allegedly blocked 2,223 sites and made over 5k arrests during the 2014 FIFA World Cup).
Looking to avoid the usual type of embarrassment that inevitably surfaces during these events, Thailand’s National Police Chief has formally warned his officers that they’re in for a world of hurt if they’re caught gambling or assisting gambling operators in any way.
In Malaysia, the police have been prepping for over a month for this year’s Ops Soga. During the last World Cup, the police conducted 828 raids which led to 424 arrests, up from 143 during the 2010 World Cup. A top cop told The Star that “with each passing championship, we learn new lessons and get valuable information.”
In Singapore, police superintendent Lawrence Eng warned punters as well as local agents for internationally licensed operators that police would take “tough enforcement actions against those who flout the law, including those who assist remote gambling syndicates in any way.”
So far, there’s no word on whether Singapore intends to run any unintentionally comic anti-betting ads, like the one in 2014 that featured a sullen kid whose dad had bet the contents of the kid’s piggy bank on Germany winning it all, only for the team to do just that.
BET ‘EM IF YOU GOT ‘EM
In Hong Kong, prison authorities are once again attempting to ensure that convicted criminals take no illicit joy from Euro 2016. You may recall that in 2014, the Hong Kong Correctional Services Department confiscated over 6k packs of cigarettes that were allegedly serving as World Cup wagering currency.
Last week, an official told the South China Morning Post that the prison was now marking cigarette packs with inmates’ numbers. Anyone found with someone else’s cigarettes will have to prove that they weren’t obtained via the payment of betting winnings.
A recent series of surprise cell inspections turned up 31 betting slips, less than half the number of slips that were confiscated in 2014. The official said prisoners had “changed tactics” by hiding their slips in inconspicuous items, including bottles of baby powder, while some prisoners are keeping their betting records on the pages of the books they’re allowed to have in their cells. Will = way.