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Police crackdown on World Cup gambling kicks off

May 15. 2018
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By The Nation

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AHEAD OF the 2018 World Cup in Russia from June 14 to July 15, the Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB) yesterday officially launched its special centre tasked with cracking down on online football gambling.

The centre’s officials will soon summon 600 alleged punters to hear charges of illegal gambling, said MPB deputy chief Pol Maj-General Panurat Lakboon in his capacity as the centre director. 

The 600 were identified from files seized during a raid on Sunday on the betting shop “Mawin 88” in Bangkok’s Soi Ngam Wongwan 43. 

The Anti-Money Laundering Office would also be involved in the investigation since gambling also violated the Anti-Money Laundering Act, Panurat said. If any punters were found to be under 18, their parents would be punished, as per the Child Protection Act, and face possible jail sentences of up to one year and six months for a second offence, he said. Police were also checking names and bank account information seized from two other shops – “Mixbet88” and “fifa-variety” – which were raided on Sunday.

Panurat said that from May 1 to 15, during the run-up to its official opening, the centre had already nabbed 15 bookies, 201 punters and two ticket-running employees. They also seized Bt171,856 cash, 267 gambling tickets with bets worth Bt297,846, 21 computers, one computer notebook, five printers, a photocopy machine and six cellphones.

Panurat said police had monitored some 300 gambling websites, whose names had been submitted to the National Broadcasting and Telecomunication Commission for blocking since most had servers in other countries. 

Meanwhile, Stop Gambling Foundation chief Thanakorn Khromkit has petitioned Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan, who oversees police and sport affairs, to take measures to suppress football betting during the 2018 World Cup. 

Thanakorn cited various surveys that indicate some three million Thai students had been involved in football gambling – with more than 200,000 football-betting websites offering them easy access. He urged that social campaigns against gambling be held in parallel with the serious crackdown on gambling dens and shops. 

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