Six arrested, HK$5.6m in soccer betting slips seized in crackdown

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 October, 2007, 12:00am

Police arrested six suspected bookmakers and seized soccer betting orders totalling more than HK$5.6 million early yesterday during raids on four flats allegedly used as gambling dens.

Crime squad officers from Kowloon West closed down suspected dens in Tuen Mun, Tseung Kwan O and Kwai Chung during the Champions League soccer match between Besiktas and Liverpool. The fourth was found in Wong Tai Sin.

The raids are part of a crackdown on illegal bookmaking.

The operation, code-named 'Crowbeak', began on Wednesday, and is being co-ordinated by the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau.

In the first five months of the year, police arrested 110 people and seized soccer betting slips with a face value of HK$182 million. For the whole of last year, police arrested 270 people and seized betting orders totalling HK$118 million.

Officers arrested a 28-year-old man at a public housing unit in Shan King Estate, Tuen Mun, at 2am. They seized betting slips, HK$3,000 in cash and a computer.

'Soccer betting orders totalling HK$3.6 million were discovered in the computer. We believe that the unit might have been used as an illegal betting centre over the past eight months,' an officer said.

Another team of officers arrested a couple, aged 30 and 34, during a raid on their Choi Yeung House unit at Choi Ming Court, Tseung Kwan O. They seized betting slips with a face value of HK$1.05 million, a computer and cash.

The third property police raided was a flat at Ching Fung House in Ning Fung Court on Lei Muk Road. A man, 44, and a woman, 33, were arrested. Officers seized computer equipment and betting orders totalling HK$150,000.

Separately, officers from Sham Shui Po, acting on a tip-off, arrested a 34-year-old man and seized betting slips with a face value of HK$800,000 in a raid on his Ming Fung Street flat in Wong Tai Sin at 11am.

'Investigations revealed that they had accepted bets from regular clients and referrals, took bets by mobile phone and used computers to store betting details,' an officer said.

'They could place bets on overseas gambling websites to alleviate their risks if necessary.'

Police believe discounts were offered to attract clients, punters could bet on credit, and a variety of betting methods and odds were offered.

Investigation showed that the four suspected bookmaking syndicates were not linked with each other, according to the same source.

'We believe we have struck a heavy blow to the syndicates in the operations,' the officer said.

There were 16 Champions League matches in the past two days.

Early on Wednesday, police arrested a man and his elderly father, and seized betting slips with a face value of HK$240,000 during a raid at their flat in Ma On Shan.

A police spokesman said they would continue to adopt multipurpose approaches - prevention, education, intelligence and enforcement - to tackle the problem.