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Crime

Police seize more than HK$100 million in illegal betting slips and arrest 71 in cross-border crackdown

More than 200 officers from the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau took action in 30 locations across Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 December, 2017, 9:02pm
UPDATED : Monday, 04 December, 2017, 11:07pm

Hong Kong and mainland Chinese police confiscated HK$100 million (US$12.8 million) worth of illegal betting slips and arrested 71 people involved in a cross-border bookmaking racket on Sunday.

More than 200 officers from the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau were active in 30 locations across Hong Kong.

Some 19 men and four women, aged between 33 and 66, were arrested in the city for engaging in bookmaking, money laundering and possession of drugs. The force believed some had triad backgrounds and were core members or senior brokers of the syndicate.

“The ring worked in four tiers: overseas bookmakers; senior brokers; brokers; and gamblers,” said Bert Lo Chung-wong, chief inspector from the bureau.

“The senior brokers sometimes acted as the bookmakers and received bets directly from gamblers. Or they passed the bets to overseas bookmakers to earn brokerage.”

Lo added most of the bets involved soccer games and horse racing.

More than 100 arrested and HK$580 million in betting records seized in crackdown

He believed the syndicate had been neutralised after officers seized HK$2.6 million and 50,000 yuan (US$7,500) in cash, computers, electronic devices and a small amount of cannabis during the operations.

Under the Gambling Ordinance, anyone engaged in illegal bookmaking could face a fine of HK$5 million and seven years’ imprisonment. Betting with illegal bookmakers risks a fine of HK$30,000 and nine months’ imprisonment.

The force urged members of the public not to place unlawful bets ahead of the soccer World Cup in Russia next summer.

Across the border, the Public Security Bureau of Guangdong province and Dongguan Public Security Bureau jointly deployed 270 officers and raided 28 locations.

50 arrested and HK$130 million in betting records confiscated

The mainland Chinese operation arrested 46 men and two women, including two masterminds of the syndicate. Law enforcers also seized 6.6 million yuan (US$1 million) in betting records and 7 million yuan in cash.

In a previous operation soon after the horse racing season began in September, Hong Kong police seized more than HK$7 million in betting records and HK$100,000 in cash in three sites in Yau Tong, Mong Kok and Tseung Kwan O.

Seven people with suspected triad backgrounds were arrested.

In a series of anti-illegal bookmaking operations during the UEFA European Championship soccer tournament in France from June to July last year, Hong Kong police confiscated more than HK$500 million in betting records and HK$3 million in cash with arrests of 103 people after raiding more than 130 sites citywide.

Police said the betting records and cash seized had made a record in recent years for cases of this kind.