Thai Police Arrest 104 Soccer Betting Site Operators Amid Illegal Gambling Crackdown

  • In June, Thai police arrested 104 people over betting sites worth more than THB1bn ($31.3m)
  • Authorities also arrested 225 people for promoting illegal online gambling during the month
  • Thailand has clamped down on illicit gambling this year after linking it to the spread of COVID-19
  • The government’s hard stance has resulted in a wave of new gambling arrests already in 2021
Thai police
Thai police arrested 104 people in June suspected of running illegal soccer betting websites supposedly worth more than THB1bn ($31.3m). [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A successful month for Thai police

Thailand’s government has ramped up its efforts to combat illicit gambling across the country this year. This crackdown continued throughout June, with police arresting 104 individuals suspected of running online soccer bettting websites supposedly worth more than THB1bn ($31.3m).

As reported by The Bangkok Post, Thailand’s Digital, Economy and Society Minister Chaiwat Thanakhamanusorn revealed the figures during a press conference on Monday. He explained that the ministry has joined forces with national police to continue the government’s clamp down on illegal gambling.

 authorities arrested 225 individuals for promoting online gambling

In addition to the 104 soccer betting suspects, authorities arrested 225 individuals for promoting online gambling in June. In doing so, they also seized THB77m ($2.4m). According to Thanakhamanusorn, Thai police are currently investigating 167 more websites for suspected promotion of gambling and will seek court orders to block or delete their URLs.

Thailand’s hard stance on gambling

In Thailand, wagering on the state lottery and horse betting through the Bangkok Turf Club are the only legal forms of gambling. Authorities have consistently cracked down on any illegal gambling activity in the country, however, these efforts saw fresh impetus this year when police linked the spread of COVID-19 to gambling dens.

During a new wave of COVID-19 infections in Thailand at the beginning of the year, police traced the virus back to “superspreader” events in the country’s illegal gambling dens. This included operations in Bangkok, which was the epicenter of the outbreak at the time.

In January, the government set up three new subcommittees tasked with tackling illegal gambling. One of the subcommittees aims to follow the money trail from gambling dens, while another will focus on long-term strategies to stamp out the activity. The third and final committee aims to identifiy areas where the dens are located and work out who is running the operations.

In response to the issue, Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has even confirmed that he is open to considering legalizing gambling. He announced plans to hold public discussions on the subject at the beginning of the year despite remaining opposed to the idea himself.

A very busy 2021 so far

As Thailand’s three new subcommittees work hard to stamp out illicit gambling activity, the country has seen a fresh wave of arrests this year.

four betting websites worth an estimated THB1bn ($31.3m)

Just one month after the formation of the subcommittees in February, police took down four betting websites worth an estimated THB1bn ($31.3m), arresting 34 people in the process. The suspects housed their operation in converted shipping containers near the Cambodian border and took bets on undergound lotteries and soccer games.

Meanwhile, later that month Thai police busted an online gambling operation which also handled around THB1bn ($31.3m). Cybercrime authorities raided eight premises, arresting 34 people across several provinces. The illicit operation worked by allowing users to wager on a downloadable app for Apple and Android users.

More recently, authorities arrested 16 administrators of an online gambling network in Thailand’s northeastern province in April. The operation involved ten gambling websites, which saw at least THB50m ($1.6m) in circulation each month.