Another week brings another round of Euro 2016 betting busts by Asian law enforcement.
Our first stop takes us to Hong Kong, where police are busy tallying the score of their Operation Crowbeak anti-betting crackdown. Police say they’ve arrested over 50 individuals and confiscated around HKD 130m (US $16.7m) in Euro 2016-related betting slips.
Police reported that more and more bookmakers were eschewing the old evidence-heavy practice of recording betting information on paper slips, opting instead for encrypted texts sent via the WhatsApp messaging service. This technological switch was forcing the HK police to solicit more help from their cybersecurity teams.
A conviction for illegal bookmaking in Hong Kong carries a maximum penalty of seven years in prison and a HKD 5m fine. Individual bettors can face prison sentences of up to nine months and fines of up to HKD 30k.
Over in Singapore, the Criminal Investigative Division (CID) arrested 12 men in a series of raids on multiple locations in the city-state. The raids netted a cash haul of SGD 251k ($184k) along with the usual tools of the trade (computers, phones, betting records, etc.). If convicted, the suspects face prison stints of up to five years and fines of up to SGD 200k.
Across the border in Malaysia, authorities in Johor Baru broke up an online betting ring that handled RM 3.5m ($850k) in Euro 2016 wagers. The ring reportedly utilized five different websites to process their wagers. Police say the 27 men arrested during the raids on 25 different locations acted as agents for the betting syndicate.
In Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur, police arrested nine men for running an online betting ring out of a luxury condominium. The ring processed wagers via 96bets.com, an official agent for Asian online betting mainstays including SBObet, IBCbet, CitiBet and others. The Kuala Lumpur operation reportedly solicited clients via social media channels including Facebook, WeChat and WhatsApp and the arrested men operated in shifts to ensure around-the-clock service for punters.
And still we keep wondering, where on earth is China in this regional anti-betting crackdown? China has been ominously quiet to date, which suggests they’re either preparing to announce something big or the cops are too worried about spoiling their own chances of winning some Euro 2016 scratch.