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NCPO to launch study into links between gambling dens, 'red' police and anti-coup rallies

Emerging information suggests some operators of illegal horse racing gambling dens may have played an active role in Thailand's current political turmoil.

A deputy spokesman of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO) alleged on Monday night that some operators of the illegal horse racing-game dens had encouraged individuals to resist security officials' operations. He said, in defiance of the martial law declaration, they had offered between Bt400 and Bt1,000 to people to join anti-coup rallies.

Soon after that announcement, some unfamiliar names appeared on the additional list of persons required to report to the NCPO.

Investigative research has revealed these names are linked to several illegal horse racing-game dens and some other suspect businesses.

Sources said all reportedly received backing from top-level police officers, whose careers appeared threatened in the wake of last week's coup.

The NCPO staged the power seizure on May 22 in a bid to end political turmoil and restore both peace and order.

The coup followed a six-months-long protest by the People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC), which sought to end what it called "the Thaksin regime".

Leader and PDRC secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban once complained on stage that an influential financial sponsor of attacks on PDRC demonstrators ran illegal gambling dens and served a high-level policeman. Suthep did not identify this sponsor by name. He just gave an initial, which sparked intense speculation.

The man implicated by Suthep is reportedly the owner of several illegal horse racing-game dens across the Central region. He has been summonsed.

According to several authorities, including the Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC), thousands of horse racing-game machines, slot machines and other gambling-themed machines have operated illegally in the capital alone. Each machine generates an income of about Bt20,000 a month.

Sources have revealed that the NCPO has also targeted another major gambling-den owner, with dens in Bangkok and nearby provinces, for his alleged role in the political violence. His henchmen are reportedly behind several violent incidents that erupted in Bangkok in the wake of the 2010 crackdown on red-shirt demonstrators.

Also summoned to the NCPO is a famous personality in Thailand's boxing circles. While he has a non-threatening front, this man has allegedly engaged in what authorities describe as 'shady businesses' behind the scenes.

During his appearances on the PDRC stage, Suthep once accused a Nakhon Pathom-based illegal horse racing-game operator of wreaking turmoil. This rich man, who reportedly has close ties with a famous politician, has not yet received a summons from the NCPO.


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