Interpol trumpets success in combatting Asia’s illegal Euro 2016 sports betting

Interpol-euro-2016-sports-betting-asiaGlobal police agency Interpol is celebrating its successes in deterring illegal sports betting in Asian countries during the Euro 2016 football tournament.

In a statement released Monday, Interpol claims that its two Euro 2016 anti-gambling operations SOGA and Aces resulted in the arrest of over 4,100 individuals and the seizure of $13.6m in illegal wagering proceeds.

Operation SOGA VI (short for soccer gambling) involved police in China, France, Greece, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The operation made nearly 4k raids on illegal gambling dens that broke up rings believed to have handled $649m worth of Euro 2016 wagers.

The Aces operation – which focused on illegal online and telephone wagering operations in Cambodia, South Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines – resulted in 33 arrests. Three illegal betting sites were shut down in Thailand, while Malaysian authorities arrested 15 individuals for payment card fraud.

Jim Anderson, head of Interpol’s Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes unit, said the success of the two operations was made possible by “global information sharing and the significant efforts by the law enforcement authorities on the ground.” The six SOGA operations have claimed a total of 12,500 arrests and the seizure of $53m in cash from operations believed to have handled nearly $6.4b in illegal wagers.

Singapore authorities piggybacked on Interpol’s announcement by detailing its individual success in combating competitors of local betting monopoly Singapore Pools. The local Criminal Investigation Department arrested 39 individuals, seized more than $482k in cash and froze a further $601k in suspects’ bank accounts.

Chan Lok-wing, head of the Hong Kong Police Force’s Organized Crime and Triad Bureau, said his outfit’s number of seizures was “the highest and most significant among similar operations in recent years.”

Interpol has made extra effort in recent years to coordinate anti-betting operations around major football events. In 2014, nine Asian nations participated in an Interpol-led campaign during the FIFA World Cup in Brazil that resulted in the arrest of over 1,400 individuals and the seizure of $12m in cash from operations believed to have handled over $2.2b in World Cup wagers.