Police have arrested 52 suspects in Singapore as part of an Interpol-coordinated crackdown in the region on illegal football betting during the recently-concluded World Cup.
In all, over 5,000 people across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Hong Kong and Macau were arrested, and US$10 million seized in the month-long sting targeted at gambling linked to organised crime, Interpol said on Friday.
In the crackdown, cops raided nearly 800 illegal gambling dens that dealt with bets of more than US$155 million from June 11 to July 11, the Lyon-based organisation said in a statement.
In Singapore, the estimated value of the illegal bets collected was over S$1.6 million, police said.
Superintendent Goh Lam Kiong, who is assistant director of the Specialised Crime Division in the Criminal Investigation Department, said: “These series of operations show that we are serious about clamping down illegal gambling activities.
“We will come down hard on subjects regardless of whether they are individuals betting illegally, or are part of a syndicate collecting illegal bets.”
He added that the police’s enforcement actions will continue even though the World Cup is over.
Interpol’s executive director for police services, Mr Jean-Michel Louboutin, said: “As well as having clear connections to organised crime gangs, illegal soccer gambling is also linked with corruption, money laundering and prostitution.”
The operation “will have a significant long-term impact on these serious offences as well,” he said.
Police also confiscated cars, bank cards, computers and cell phones, and the materials “will now be reviewed and analysed to determine the potential involvement of other individuals or gangs across the region and beyond,” Interpol said.
Under the law, punters who place bets with bookmakers face fines of up to S$5,000 and/or jail of up to six months upon conviction.
Anyone found guilty of being involved in bookmaking face fines of between S$20,000 and S$200,000, and a mandatory jail-term not exceeding five years.