Police warn punters over soccer betting on overseas websites

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 June, 2010, 12:00am

It is illegal for local punters to place soccer bets with offshore gambling websites, regardless of whether the bookmakers were authorised overseas, police have warned as the World Cup approaches.

With the event starting on June 11 in South Africa, organised crime and triad bureau superintendent Man Tat-shing predicted illegal soccer gambling would increase. 'And cyber gambling is a challenge, not only to us but also to our counterparts on the mainland and overseas.'

Man added that a group comprising officers from the triad bureau, commercial crime bureau's technology crime division, and the narcotics bureau was formed at the start of the year to combat illegal soccer gambling through intelligence exchanges and possible joint operations with law enforcement on the mainland and overseas.

Cyber gambling had become a trend in recent years and illegal bookmaking syndicates had ditched their old methods of phone calls and betting slips and set up gambling websites that were registered outside Hong Kong, Chief Inspector Ng Wai-hon of the triad bureau said.

'But then I have to stress here that for Hongkongers, it is illegal to gamble through offshore websites, no matter if they are legally registered overseas or not,' Ng said.

Punters who placed bets on legal and illegal offshore sites had been arrested in the past but he could not give figures, Man said.

Asked how police traced the punters, Man said banks and credit card companies would report any suspicious transactions. Police would also contact internet service providers in the city regarding websites that might be involved in such illegal activities.

Man also urged the public to report illegal betting.

The amount of illegal soccer bets discovered by police's anti-illegal bookmaking operations continued decreasing after hitting a peak in 2007 of HK$223.3 million.

This was due to the force's enhanced efforts in fighting illegal soccer gambling, Man said.

Cracking down

In 2008, police seized HK$125 million in illegal soccer bets, and last year this fell to: $39.7m