Thai Police Arrest 34, Take Down Four Websites in $33.2m Online Gambling Ring Bust

  • Police exposed the illegal operation during a Thursday raid of four cargo containers 
  • The arrested web administrators accepted wagers on underground lotteries and soccer games
  • Authorities also confiscated 69 computers and 101 mobile phones in the bust
  • Other national authorities have been hunting Asian gang leaders with ties to gambling crime
finger pressing keyboard button that reads online gambling
Thai police officers have arrested 34 suspects in a raid on cargo containers near the Cambodian border which housed an illegal gambling operation. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Police raid gets results

Police officers in Thailand have arrested 34 people involved in an online gambling operation housed in converted shipping containers.

Authorities arrested 34 website administrators during a raid in the Pong Nam Ron district of the Chanthaburi province on Thursday, with police shutting down four illegal gambling websites as a result. According to the Bangkok Post, the websites processed wagers of more than THB1bn ($33.2m) while operational.

online operation in offices created from four converted shipping containers

The gambling ring members ran their online business in offices created from four converted shipping containers near the Cambodian border. All 34 web administrators face charges for colluding in operating online gambling.

A web-based organisation

In a Friday media briefing, Police Lt Gen Torsak Sukwimol, chief of the CIB, provided details surrounding the online gambling operation. Thailand’s Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) and immigration officers raided the containers as part of an operation named ‘Chanthaburi Online’, where police apprehended 17 men and 17 women.

The web administrators ran four gambling websites named VR898, Hattrick 988, Hattrck 888, and betway88. The sites accepted wagers on Thailand’s underground lotteries, in addition to soccer games. Officers seized a total of 69 computers and 101 mobile phones in the raid.

Torsak said the web administrators each received payment of THB25,000 ($830.84) to run the websites. Meanwhile, those who programmed the sites earned 8% of the betting stakes. The websites reportedly processed tens of thousands of bets each day.

All forms of gambling, other than the state lottery and horse racing, are currently illegal in Thailand. However, in January this year, Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha confirmed he intends to hold public discussions to consider gambling legalization. The move comes after Thai police traced a recent outbreak of COVID-19 to illegal gambling dens in the country. As of yet, there has been no update on the progress of discussions.

Other Asian gambling-related crime

Late last month, police in the Netherlands arrested Tse Chi Lop, the alleged leader of an Asian crime syndicate named ‘The Company’. The group has ties to money laundering using casinos in the Mekong region of China. The arrest resulted from a warrant issued by the Australian Federal Police.

According to Australia’s national police, The Company is responsible for up to 70% of illegal drugs to have entered the country over the past 20 years. Tse Chi Lop will face trial in Australia after his extradition.

$1.4m worth of fraud, in addition to racketeering and human trafficking

Meanwhile, Malaysian police are currently hunting alleged Chinese triad boss, Wan Kuok-koi. Authorities have tied the 65-year-old suspect, otherwise known as ‘Broken Tooth’, to illegal gambling operations. He also stands accused of $1.4m worth of fraud, in addition to racketeering and human trafficking.

Malaysian police recently requested Interpol put out a red notice for Wan Kuok-koi. This would alert police forces worldwide about the fugitive, allowing any country to provisionally arrest him pending his extradition.