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Thai Police are Cracking Down on Football Gambling Ahead of World Cup
- June 10, 2014 By Nemanja L. -
Thai police have established an operation centre in an attempt to break a football betting ring ahead of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil that kicks off on Thursday 12th June. The government officials are targeting online and offline gambling establishments as well as SMS lucky draws, according to The Nation.
Gambling is Illegal in Thailand
With the exception of state lottery and domestic horse racing, gambling has been banned in Thailand under the 1935 Gambling Act, but it is, nonetheless, believed that up to 70% of adult population are involved in some form of illegal gambling.
Problem gambling is considered a major issue in Thailand, where 40 percent of children who place wagers on football matches have started gambling at 15 years of age, with over 50 percent spending their own piggy bank money to fund their habit, a survey by Chulalongkorn University Centre for Gambling Studies has revealed.
The National Police chiefs have stated at a press conference that the operations centre will work hand in hand with each police precinct to crack down gambling at entertainment venues and other establishments where live matches are broadcast. The owners of such venues could have their permits revoked, whilst bookmakers, gang members and investors will be arrested as well.
Betting on Football Sees 30% Rise
National Police colonel Akkharadet Pimonsri of the Crime Suppression Division has revealed that football gambling has seen a 30 percent growth as a result of increased internet usage among students and people in major cities.
The police plan to monitor calls to various hotlines used for placing football bets to arrest bookmakers taking wagers over the phone and operators of SME draws. Banks and schools have been asked to help the police and inform them of dubious financial transactions and student gambling behaviour.
Nuannoi Trirat, director of the Centre for Gambling Studies, stated that 38 percent of high school and college students with gambling experience had placed their first football bet between the ages of 8 and 14, while another 50 percent did it at 15 or 16 years of age.
While 10% of participants in the survey said they planned to bet on the 2014 World Cup, more than half of that number revealed they were not scared of getting arrested in the process.
Some one third of respondents that do gamble on football admitted they were forced to consider illegal ways of finding money in an attempt to cover their gambling debts, leading to seeking medical help and contemplating suicide due to high stress levels.