On Wednesday, police in Muang district of Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand, have arrested four individuals suspected of operating an illegal casino-style gambling website. The arrests mark the culmination of a joint effort between the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) and the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology. The unlicensed site was operating in violation of Thai gambling laws.
The CSD team which performed the raid was headed by Pol Col Thanai Aphichatsenee. The four men who were detained admitted to operating an unlicensed online gambling website, and stated that they had been running the site for more than four years.
The gambling site was clandestine. Interested players had to fund their accounts by transferring money to a savings account owned by a woman called Sulakkhana Sitthiphon. After transferring cash to Ms Sulakkhana’s bank account, players would receive their user name and password through an SMS on mobile phones. The site apparently generated somewhere around 10 million baht ($300,000) every day.
Pol Col Thanai and his team registered with the site a few months ago then spent several weeks gathering evidence before finally raiding the site’s headquarters. In the raid, police confiscated 9 million baht in cash (around $270,000), gold accessories, a 38-calibre pistol with bullets, passbooks, lists of members’ names, 11 mobile phones, four desktop computers, one laptop computer and office equipment.
While the men who were arrested face illegal gambling charges, authorities are also taking a close look at their financial histories, and may also charge them with money laundering.
Online gambling in Thailand is forbidden, so it is not surprised that this unlicensed site was shut down. Fortunately, the Thai government does very little to prevent players from using foreign online gambling sites, which are hosted in countries where Thai authorities have no jurisdiction. There are many online gambling sites that accept Thai players, though most sites are only available in English.