World Cup kicks off huge illegal betting spree

national June 19, 2018 01:00

By The Nation

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Police join with banks, AMLO to stem tide of online football gambling.

WITH SOME 3,000 football gambling suspects nabbed in just the first five days of the Fifa World Cup, police have joined with the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo), 36 banks and the e-money service provider Telco in monitoring for suspected online gambling money transactions, Amlo chief Romsit Wiriyasan said yesterday. The banks and Telco will alert police or Amlo about suspicious transactions for investigation, he explained.

Those involved in online football gambling – including punters, bookies, web owners and administrators, bank account holders and those who benefit – would face criminal prosecutions and asset seizure under the Anti-Money Laundering Act, Romsit warned.

Police have vowed to continue monitoring “gambling-prone venues” such as night entertainment sites, Internet cafes and computer-game shops. Meanwhile, Technology Crime Suppression Division units, including Amlo’s “cyber patrols” will monitor gambling websites and gather evidence for prosecution, Romsit said.

In addition to the current gambling crackdown, Romsit said that his agency will also apply the transaction monitoring method to 26 types of crime, with a hotline by which banks and Telco could alert authorities.

Police also beefed up security at gold shops, banks, ATMs and convenience stores in case desperate debt-ridden gamblers resorted to thefts and robberies, said police spokesman Pol Colonel Krissana Pattanacharoen.

During May 1 to June 17, police handled 2,751 football gambling cases covering 2,827 suspects, including more than 250 suspects in Bangkok alone, Krissana said. 

Punters arrested

A total of 107 football bookmakers were targeted with 111 suspects netted, 2,536 football-gambling cases with 2,574 punters arrested, and 33 ticket-runner cases with 36 suspects nabbed. For online gambling, there were 30 bookie cases with 42 suspects arrested and 45 online football-gambling cases with 64 punters netted. Police also seized Bt520,247 cash, Bt1.5 million-worth of football betting tickets and another Bt12,825 in bankbook, he added.

A specialised centre for football gambling suppression was set up on May 1 by national police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda. It will operate under the helm of Pol General Chalermkiat Srivorakan, the deputy national police chief, until the World Cup tournament is over on July 15.

Chalermkiat revealed that 100 out of the estimated 100,000 Internet gambling websites were administrated by Thais and based in the country, mainly in and around Bangkok, and police were gathering evidence to apply for court orders to shut them down.

This World Cup has seen an increase in football gambling cases because more people have access to gambling websites via smartphones, said Chalermkiat. He added that 10 “Net Idols” from Thai social media who are accused of promoting football betting would testify to Bangkok police tomorrow.


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