PokerNews published an interview with the famous and interesting gambler Paul Phua, to portray the poker player and businessman in a better light than he usually appears in the media. Mr Phua Wei Seng decided to talk about the myths around him and obviously said that he is far from being the match-fixing mastermind the media tends to depict him.
Actually it is not just the media. Even the FBI speculated that he is an important member of the 14K Triad, the infamous Chinese mafia group. And the FBI was also able to collect a lot of evidence against Mr Phua Wei Seng, who was allegedly operating an illegal internet betting circle from Las Vegas throughout the 2014 FIFA World Championship.
However, the sloppy feds’ raid turned out to be lacking the proper legal backing so the prosecutors weren’t able to use the evidence against Paul Phua in court. Mr Phua Wei Seng walked away as a free man, though authorities haven’t given up on catching him.
The Paul Phua interview: I am no bookie
PokerNews were determined to bring the man behind the myths closer to the readers, so they flew out to Manila, Philippines for a detailed interview with Mr Phua Wei Seng. This is a unique occasion as Paul Phua decided to tackle all the allegations about him being a 14K Triad member, arranging some of the biggest football match-fixing scams and being the world’s biggest bookie.
He smartly averted the allegations about being an industry leading bookie, basically saying that he doesn’t take bets himself. He said, “The truth is that I have not been involved in the sports betting industry for a long time. I’m just an investor, I’m a gambler, and I’m a risk taker, but I’m not an operator. I have invested in a lot of businesses, including online gambling businesses, in the past. But for the past seven or eight years, for me, it has been all about poker, family, and lot of real estate property investments.”
Mr Phua Wei Seng: I was in junket business rather than sports betting
He is from a community of Chinese immigrants in Malaysia, so gambling was obviously there as he grew up. Card games and mahjong was regularly played by the family. He was also into football betting from a young age as well as horse racing and casino gaming. He eventually started his own casino business and become successful with it.
He was also around the start of the online betting industry as an investor, and when Macau went to Las Vegas in style, he channeled his VIP casino players to Sands Casino. He claims that this junket business was his main thing rather than operating internet betting sites in Malaysia. He also denies that he had anything to do with the 1997 Floodlights match-fixing scandal, when two Premier League football games were stopped in the second half due to floodlight failure.
“It’s absolute nonsense and without any basis in fact,” he commented the Floodlight rumours. “It’s some rumors. Being in the gambling circles you get these kinds of allegations, but it’s nonsense.”
In the next part we will assess how Mr Phua Wei Seng got into poker rooms in Macau and got hooked for life and how a “bad chain of events” started that led to him being labeled as a match-fixing criminal mastermind.