Thai police have admitted that finding and closing down illegal online gambling rings taking bets on the World Cup football championships currently running in Russia is made more difficult by the international nature of the industry.
Police Deputy Commissioner Phanurat Lakboon, who is in charge of police operations against illegal football betting, told the Bangkok Post at the weekend that shuttering online gambling rings is more difficult than closing down offline activity, saying:
“You can catch physical gambling pools or arrest gamblers in the den. But it is almost impossible to track down those masterminds, both Thais and foreigners, behind online football gambling rings as most of them operated betting websites from Cambodia where gambling is legal.”
Lakboon also opined that Thai punitive measures against illegal gambling do not constitute an effective deterrent; Section 12 of the Gambling Act prescribes a one-year prison term or a 1,000-baht fine, or both, and the courts often give suspended jail terms for football gambling.
The police attempt to beef up gambling prosecutions by linking them with money laundering charges, which empower the freezing and seizure of assets.
In the current campaign against illegal World Cup betting police cybercrime teams have flagged over 300 online football betting websites taking bets from Thai punters, Lakboon revealed. Most of these are operated from outside Thailand, and the police have asked the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission to order the ISP blocking of the sites.
The deputy commissioner revealed that between May 1 and June 13 this year 722 suspects have been arrested in 667 offline betting cases, while other 763 other suspects were detained in 681 online gambling cases. He said that these statistics were miniscule when juxtaposed against the massive scale of World Cup betting.