Illegal Gambling Hotel Raid in Thailand Leads to 224 Arrests

  • Police raided hotel in Mae Sot district acting as base for illegal online gambling operation
  • 224 arrested, charged with gambling offenses and holding gathering that could spread disease
  • Officers seized many computers, internet equipment, mobile phones, bank account passbooks 
  • Previous Mae Sot bust led to 25 arrests, seizure of bank accounts with about ฿100m ($3.2m)
Thailand police officer in uniform
Police in Thailand busted an online gambling ring that was operating out of a hotel in Mae Sot. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Police bust Chinese online gambling ring

Police in Thailand raided an illegal gambling operation in a hotel in the Mae Sot district, arresting 224 people. Police suspect the F4 hotel on Intharakhiri Road, downtown Mae Sot had been bought cheaply by Chinese gangsters to use as a base for their illegal online gambling operation. 

operation of online gambling, colluding in persuading people to gamble, and holding a gathering or activity that risks spreading disease

Wednesday evening’s raid involved around 50 police officers from local police stations and the Provincial Police Region 6, who rounded up 140 men and 84 women. The individuals arrested were hit with a variety of charges, such as the operation of online gambling, colluding in persuading people to gamble, and holding a gathering or activity that risks spreading disease. 

Officers took more than 500 items as evidence from the hotel rooms, which contained numerous computers and related equipment. Authorities also seized 240 bank account passbooks and multiple mobile phones. The gamblers were said to be Myanmar, Chinese, and Thai nationals.

An ongoing investigation

Local authorities have been investigating Chinese gambling rings in the district for some time. An unnamed official spoke to the Bangkok Post about the increasing presence of these illegal operations in Mae Sot. 

The official said that after the authorities in the nearby Myanmar town of Myawaddy cracked down on online gambling rings, the same operations then moved across the border to Mae Sot. 

Some of the Chinese nationals involved have rented houses that act as a base for online gambling businesses. Others, such as in this latest raid, purchased hotels for their operations. These properties have been selling at massively reduced prices over the COVID-19 pandemic.

Case follows another recent raid

At the end of May, police also raided a house in the Mae Sot district that was being used to host an online gambling operation. Of the 25 people arrested, five were locals while the rest were foreign nationals. 

50 bank accounts with a cumulative sum of ฿100 million ($3.2m)

Officers seized seven computers, 2,000-2,500 SIM cards, and 14 smartphones as evidence, along with 50 bank accounts with a cumulative sum of about ฿100m ($3.2m). Police are still trying to track down the operators of the illegal gambling ring and to seize their assets.

Thailand’s Immigration Police Bureau chief said after the raid that online gambling activity had increased during the COVID-19 pandemic as people were staying in their homes.