HK$170m in illegal bets seized in raids

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 June, 2010, 12:00am

Police seized HK$170 million in illegal soccer and horse racing betting records yesterday at two sites believed to be operated by triads.

It is believed to be the largest amount ever found in one police operation in the city.

Officers from the organised crime and triad bureau seized HK$150 million in illegal betting slips when they raided a flat at the Hoplite Industrial Centre on Wang Tai Road, Kowloon Bay, where 24 monitors and six computers were also found, at about 3.30pm yesterday.

Meanwhile, police raided a room at the San Diego Hotel in Woosung Street, Yau Ma Tei, seizing HK$20 million in betting records, computers and mobile phones. It was believed to be linked to the Kowloon Bay operation.

Chief Inspector Ng Wai-hon said more than a dozen computer screens were used to display bets at the Kowloon Bay centre. The betting centre was on the surface operating as a trading company.

Ng said: 'The site was on a considerable scale, it's looked just like a computer control room.'

He said there were scores of closed-circuit cameras monitoring the area.

Two men were arrested for illegal bookmaking at the Kowloon Bay site and two men were detained at the hotel. All are Hongkongers aged from 43 to 58.

Two triad gangs are believed to be behind the illegal betting centres. Police say the ringleader and core members are among those arrested.

Ng said those operating at the hotel had constantly changed rooms to try to evade detection.

Police believe the illegal betting ring operated for about six months. They said the betting operation might have involved more than 1,000 local punters who placed bets through at least two websites operated by the gang or by phone.

Ng said they were investigating how much of the bets seized had been placed on games at soccer's World Cup and in particular on yesterday's game between England and Germany.

'We can say this is the largest case on record,' Ng said, adding that further arrests were possible.

The latest police operation comes after another big raid that was jointly carried out by local and mainland police on June 12, a day after the World Cup kicked off.

Bureau officers seized betting slips with a face value of more than HK$100 million when they raided an illegal gambling syndicate taking bets on World Cup matches at locations citywide.

More than 20 people were arrested for taking bets and money laundering.

Mainland police arrested 30 people involved in the syndicate.

Ng said police would continue to combat illegal bookmaking activities during the World Cup and urged anyone who has information on illegal betting to report to the police by phoning 2527 7887.