Singapore Police Bust $3-Million Illegal Betting Ring

Singapore police arrested on Monday 31 individuals for the provision of illegal sports betting services to locals during the ongoing World Cup. Following massive raids across the city, police also seized S$1.25 million (approximately $733,400) in cash and equipment allegedly used for the illegal operation of betting.

This is the latest of piling instances of police across the Asia-Pacific region conducting raids to detain violators of jurisdictions’ gambling laws. The report also comes as another manifestation about the popularity of sports betting in the area and the urgent need for proper regulations that would hamper an already booming black market from a further growth.

Singaporean police said in a press released that the arrested individuals have netted more than S$4 million (approximately $2.9 million) in bets on World Cup matches over the past two weeks. The arrests were part of a wider operation that took place across the island on Monday.

The identities of the detained violators were not disclosed, but police said they were aged between 22 and 74. Each of them would be investigated individually so that the scope of their involvement be revealed.

Commenting on the most recent wave of arrests, Florence Chua, Director of the Singapore Criminal Investigation Department, told media that the raids were part of police’s enhanced efforts to detect and penalize any breaches of the city’s Remote Gambling Act.

Police in Asia Ramp Up Enforcement Action

Under Singapore’s gambling law from 2014, people found to have provided illegal gambling services are facing fines of between S$20,000 (approximately $14,668) and S$200,000 (approximately $146,680) and/or up to five years in prison. Those who wager on illegal gambling websites can, too, be slapped with fines of up to S$5,000 (approximately $3,667) and can be sentenced to up to six months in prison.

According to information provided by the Ministry of Home Affairs, more than 800 illegal gambling websites have been blocked since February 2015. In addition, authorities have blocked more than 200 bank accounts used by black market operators to conduct transactions worth over S$7 million ($5.1 million).

Singapore has not been the only place in Asia where police have ramped up their efforts to crack down on illegal betting during the World Cup.

Multiple raids by Thai police have resulted in more than 6,500 people being arrested on gambling-related charges since the beginning of the biggest sporting event of the year. Both providers of illegal services and bettors engaging in illegal betting have been arrested over the past three weeks.

In China, a gambling ring was busted late last month. Police detained seven individuals and confiscated equipment that was allegedly used for betting operations. It was reported that the amount of CNY100 million (approximately $15.1 million) was staked on the websites operated by the ring.

In Vietnam, police nabbed an illegal online gambling operation late last month that had reportedly netted more than VND600 billion (approximately $26 million) in wagers from local bettors.

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