Dozens detained at an illegal gambling parlor in Pomona

Despite most countries trying to crack down on illegal gambling rings, there are – and probably always will be – illicit gambling rings around. These are established to attempt to circumvent the taxes due on wagers. 

Recently, there have been many cases of match-fixing across professional sports due to the power of these coordinated syndicates. Still, the question remains: how do illegal gambling rings really work?

How Does an Illegal Gambling Ring Operate?

A ring can be set up almost anywhere, but a location that is enclosed and out of the public eye is the best. Once premises have been found, the ring has to establish the manpower needed; the fewer, the better, to prevent problems later.

The ring will require a head bookmaker, usually the top member of the ring. Next, an operations/site manager is needed to ensure the safe and smooth operation of the ring. Other members required are dealers, teller(s), bet processors, telephone operators, and debt collectors. 

Above these basic members of the ring are any number of higher persons, each level being separated from the next. This means that it is hard to follow the whole make-up of any particular ring and even more difficult to take legal action against them.

Of course, a major requirement is to have sufficient funds to back the enterprise in case of a run of player winning bets.

Why Are Gamblers Attracted to these Illegal Rings?

Many gamblers feel embarrassed visiting a brick-and-mortar casino or bookmaker and feel at ease being anonymous using online or telephone gambling options. For many countries around the world, the fact that gambling is illegal creates a demand for the illicit gambling ring option.

How Do You Place a Wager?

There are two methods used. First, by telephone, with the ring’s debt collector obtaining the cash and paying out on wins in person. The second method is via the internet, either by secret login or through the dark web using encryption and specialized servers.

Do Illegal Gambling Rings Make a Profit?

Due to the high risks involved, the ‘owners’ of the ring can make a lot of money. This is mainly due to the non-payment of taxes, which could be a saving of over 7.5% of their take. They are also able to bypass many of the regulations involved in gambling, and this has the added bonus of attracting many wealthy high rollers. 

For what it is worth, it is widely considered that the revenue generated throughout illegal gambling could be as high as $500 billion!

The Hidden Processes

Many of the largest illegal gambling rings around the world maintain their business due to some ‘shady’ activities. It is well-known that government officials in most countries are ‘paid off’ to turn a blind eye to the ring’s activities. 

Another ploy used by the larger rings is to ‘rat out’ smaller enterprises to local law enforcement agencies, enabling them to show they are on top of the problem. In reality, these smaller rings have little impact on the illegal gambling scene.

What Are the Dangers to Individual Gamblers?

As there are no official records of wagers placed, some of the more questionable rings have withheld significant payouts. The possibility of match-fixing can also affect the odds being offered and create more substantial losses to the individual.

What’s Next for These Illegal Gambling Rings?

These rings are a significant component of the gambling industry, just as much as bookies, casinos, lotteries, and racetracks. Often run by criminal syndicates, they are well organized and have perfected ways to entice the more prominent gamblers into using their services.

triadsMany of these illegal gambling rings are known for very ‘dark’ activities, such as extortion and violence. Since they are unregulated, they are not required to assist with addiction caused by gambling.

When it comes to disrupting the larger syndicates, the process can take significant time due to the complexity of the operations and the limits to law enforcement. This allows for other means of building their profits. On top of this list is the use of match-fixing: enticing teams, players or officials to act in such a way as to influence the result. This poses an ever-increasing threat within the sports arena.

This is why many countries struggle with their gambling laws. By allowing the gambling market to operate freely and without restriction, organized crime will gain a stranglehold on all gambling operations. But when gambling is banned outright — as it is in China — gamblers flock to places like Macau.

In order to walk the fine line between order and chaos in the gambling world, proper administration and careful regulation is the only way to protect everyone.


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Richard Holmes was born in Tampa, Florida and studied computer science at Pensacola Christian College in Pensacola Florida. A devout Baptist, volunteer Sunday School teacher and online gaming fan, Richard works as a part-time systems administrator at Baptist Hospital and part-time professional blogger specializing in statistics, probability and computer science issues. He is an ardent believer in the future of artificial intelligence as a tool for transforming human society for the better, particularly in the area of health care and modern medicine. A chess player, and competitive online gamer Richard actively participates on online gaming tournaments in his free time.