Asian police vie for World Cup of Betting Crackdown trophy


asia-world-cup-betting-bustsOnline gambling operator 12Bet has been linked to an operation by Vietnamese police targeting unapproved betting on the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Late Friday night, Vietnamese media reported that Ho Chi Minh City police had arrested four individuals linked to an online gambling ring that handled over VND600b (US$26.2m) in wagers since police began monitoring the ring’s activities last year.

While the ring reportedly handled its wagers through the Philippines-licensed 12Bet, its customers used online banking to purchase ‘virtual credits’ from the organizers, who then placed the wagers on the customers’ behalf.

In addition to the four principals, police searched the homes of another four suspects, seizing computers, phones and over VND300m in cash.

Vietnam has been taking steps to open a legal sports betting market but the strict betting limits and the types of sports on which punters could wager have yet to convince a single local operator to step up and apply for a license from the local government.

Police across the Asia-Pacific region traditionally treat quadrennial football tournaments as their own World Cup of Arresting Bookmakers and Bettors, and this year’s football extravaganza in Russia is proving no exception.

In Thailand, where police made over 3k arrests in the World Cup’s first four days, police broke up an online betting ring on Thursday in northern Chiang Mai province. Police raided several rented houses, arresting 15 individuals who reportedly held accounting, marketing and supervisory roles.

Using data from seized computers and bank books, police claim the ring had cash turnover of THB4m ($121k) per day and netted monthly profits of THB100m from a pool of around 5,600 customers, all of whom can expect invitations to their local police station over the next few days.

Meanwhile, Bangkok’s Metropolitan Police Bureau announced Thursday that on Monday they will summon another 20 ‘net idols’ for promoting online betting sites to Thai citizens. This past week, the first of these ‘net pretties’ were handed one-month prison sentences – suspended for one year – for promoting betting sites such as SBObet to Thai punters.

Across the border in Cambodia, Prime Minister Hun Sen warned his subjects not to fall prey to the evils of betting, citing the arrest of six individuals accused of running a sports betting operation out of the appropriately named Sports Café Shop in Kandal province. The PM said if Cambodians wanted to bet on World Cup matches, “please just do it for a handshake.”

In Taiwan, police in the capital Taipei arrested over 70 individuals on the first day of the World Cup on suspicion of providing illegal cross-border online gambling services to punters in China, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines and Myanmar. The ring is believed to have handled as much as NT1b ($33.5m) in wagers in the past six months.

We’ll conclude our regional roundup in Hong Kong, where police arrested an enterprising 17-year-old who reportedly handled over HK2.4m ($305k) in World Cup wagers from his apartment in just the first few days of the tournament.

A far more lucrative Hong Kong betting operation was rumbled on the eve of the World Cup kickoff, resulting in the arrests of over 50 people. The ring had reportedly booked HKD78m in wagers in advance of the World Cup’s first match on June 14. Hong Kong police also reported seizing over 50k items of apparel with fake FIFA trademarks in the run-up to this year’s World Cup.