While Thai fans were hoping to cash in on an amazing World Cup victory for the team they were rooting for, police agencies in Thailand were seizing millions of dollars of illegal gaming money. While the Thai police were successful in their raids, these raids represent a larger problem for the country because they demonstrate the problems the nation has with gaming in general and the amount of illegal cash going into – and flowing out of – the country.
Thailand’s Gambling Problem
Thailand has a large gambling problem. Currently, there are only two forms of gaming allowed– horse racing and the Thai lottery. However, there are many different types of gaming that exist all over the country. For example, illegal casinos are predominantly in Bangkok and cater to the tourist trade. Thailand is trying to crack down on illegal gambling in the country because the government does not profit from it, and the leadership in Thailand considers gambling to be a vice.
However, the most recent and largest problem has been with the use of illegal online gaming and sportsbooks. The Thai police have been focused on sportsbooks in the last month because of the World Cup, which represented the largest amount of money spent on sports gaming in the country in the last three years.
The Most Recent Raid
The largest and most recent raid by the Thai police on illegal sportsbooks resulted in the arrest of 4,700 people. The police initially seized $200,000 baht in the raid. However, in their research into the activities of the sportsbook, the police found 147 bank accounts tied to the sportsbook that had deposits of more than $35 million. The police think that some of the money was being laundered by the sportsbooks for drug cartels in Asia.The Thai police have shown they are serious about cracking down on illegal sportsbooks. They claim to have arrested thousands of people and seized a half-billion baht during the World Cup.
The police began the crackdown on the illegal sportsbooks agents by arresting more than 3,000 people and confiscating millions of dollars during the first four days of the World Cup. Much of the arrests took place in the Bangkok region and its surrounding areas, but there have been arrests all over the country.The police have said that the largest problem with finding and catching people in Thailand is that many sportsbooks operate online. The police have estimated there are thousands of soccer sportsbooks online that advertise in Thai to Thailand’s citizens. While the police have closed down hundreds of bookmakers in Thailand, they also realize that there are also thousands of sportsbook sites in Cambodia, where gaming is legal.
The problem for the Thai police is that because gaming is legal in Cambodia, and the Thai government has no jurisdiction, it cannot ask the Cambodians to stop the online sportsbooks. The Thai government has instead focused on cracking down on the illegal gaming in the country, as well as arresting the people in Thailand who promote illegal sportsbooks on social media sites. Women, called “net pretties” in Thailand, are often paid to show themselves gaming in the country or to promote gaming.The Anti-Money Laundering Office in Thailand works with dozens of banks to track the distribution of money from betting websites and tries to block the websites with the cooperation of local Internet service providers. However, it is estimated that despite all the crackdown, at least 10 percent of the population of Thailand placed a bet during the World Cup.
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