Since the opening of World Cup’s finals in Brazil last Friday, Hong Kong police have arrested 21 suspected illegal bookmakers and confiscated HK$69 million in soccer betting orders across the city.
The value of the betting records is well above the HK$54.2 million in illegal bets on soccer seized by police in the first four months of this year.
Further arrests and seizure of illegal bets are expected as the operation, codenamed “Crowbreak”, will continue until mid-July throughout the World Cup tournament.
The city-wide crackdown is co-ordinated by the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau and involves officers from several police districts.
In the latest crackdown, the Hong Kong Island special duty squad arrested an suspected bookmaker when they raided an apartment in the Lai Wan Building on Shau Kei Wan Road, Sai Wan Ho at about 3.30am on Tuesday.
“HK$4.6 million in illegal bets on soccer matches, a computer and two mobile phones were seized along with HK$4,500 and 2,000 yuan in the unit,” a police spokesman said.
A 42-year-old Hong Kong man was arrested on suspicion of taking illegal bets. He was being held for questioning and had not been charged by the afternoon.
On Monday night, anti-triad officers arrested a 45-year-old man in a village house at Ham Tin Tsuen on Kwok Shui Road, Tsuen Wan.
Inside the house, soccer betting records with a face value of HK$2.7 million, two computers and three mobile phones were confiscated, according to police, who believe the suspect to be a triad member.
Over the weekend, a tip-off led police to the arrest of a suspected triad member and the seizure of HK$3 million in illegal bets on soccer matches, a computer and two account books in a Yi Pei Square flat in Tsuen Wan on Sunday night.
The Tsuen Wan district crime squad broke an illegal bookmaking ring with the arrest of five men and one woman in a Station Lane restaurant in Hung Hom on Saturday.
Inside the premises, officers seized records of HK$21 million in bets on soccer matches along with HK$250,000 in cash.
The value of soccer betting records seized by police in recent years peaked in 2010, when HK$386 million was confiscated. It reached HK$225 million last year and HK$139 in 2012, according to police figures.
Hong Kong police have set up a task force with authorities in Macau and Guangdong and with Interpol to help combat illegal betting during the World Cup.
About 10 days ago, Hong Kong and Guangdong police smashed a massive cross-border gambling syndicate that took up to HK$500 million a day. Illegal soccer gambling was said to be worth HK$500 billion last year – four times the amount the Jockey Club took in legal racing and soccer bets.