Asian authorities are off to a roaring start in their bid to stop their citizens from having fun betting on Euro 2016 football matches.
Over the weekend, Thailand police announced they’d arrested 1,192 individuals since Euro 2016 kicked off on June 10. The overwhelming majority of these were individual gamblers, but the police did arrest 15 bookmakers and 13 online gambling operators.
Among those arrested for organizing online betting activity were four South Koreans, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, given the hordes of Korean betting operators who in recent years have come to view Thailand as a preferred jurisdiction in which to set up shop.
Over in Malaysia, the country’s Euro 2016 ‘Ops Soga’ operation has arrested 60 football bookies in the tournament’s first week, compared to around 100 such arrests during the whole Euro 2012 event. The latest busts include a sophisticated setup in Kuala Lumpur that targeted both locals and football bettors in neighboring Singapore.
Malaysian police said the operation launched in March and had been actively using social media apps including Facebook, WhatsApp and WeChat to solicit betting clients. Police arrested nine staff who were part of a three-shift team that worked around the clock serving punters’ needs.
In the Malaysian-controlled portion of the island of Borneo, police arrested three sixty-something bookmakers who amply demonstrated the ‘fuck it’ attitude common to many seniors by brazenly choosing to operate out of a food court in the city of Kuching. Police confiscated mobile phones, some cash and betting records recorded on sheets of paper because, you know, senior citizens tend to forget things.
In Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, police arrested two reputed agents for online gambling giant SBOBET in separate incidents, as well as one unlucky client of the agents. All three are facing possible sentences of up to four years in prison.
So where’s the rest of Asia? Vietnam has staked out an early lead by dismantling a massive local betting ring but China has been curiously silent on its progress to date on stamping out illegal betting on this year’s marquee football event. Saving up for a big reveal?