Hong Kong Cops Warn On World Cup Betting


Special task forces, cyber-patrols and service provider enquiries all planned

The police in Hong Kong have issued a strong pubic warning that they intend to be on the lookout for illegal gambling on the football World Cup, which kicks off in South Africa June 11.

Although gambling is a popular activity in Hong Kong, it is strictly controlled. Betting is only allowed through the official Hong Kong Jockey Club or the weekly government-run lottery.

The police have created a special task force, and cyber patrols focusing on football betting have commenced, a spokesman revealed this week. He noted that police have also conducted enquiries among service providers.

"We have contacted the service providers of the website companies, in order to get some insight or intelligence regarding illegal gambling information," said Superintendent Man Tat-shing of the Hong Kong Organised Crime and Triad Bureau.

Police are also co-coordinating with banks to report any suspicious transactions, he said.

"Some illegal websites overseas may accept credit card payment or bank remittance. All of this information we'll look into once the relevant financial institutions report it to us," said Superintendent Man.

Figures show gambling problems tend to spike dramatically during World Cup competitions, which are held every 4 years.

During the last competition, held in Germany in 2006, Hong Kong police arrested 342 people for illegal bookmaking and seized over US$20 million worth of illegal bets.

This year the government has invested an additional HK$ 2 million in publicising anti-illegal gambling information.

Those caught engaging in illegal soccer gambling in Hong Kong can face up to 9 months in jail.

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