Expecting a great increase in illegal gambling during the upcoming 2010 World Cup, law enforcement officials are working around the clock on ways to stem the illegal activity in internet betting in Hong Kong before it starts.
And the most recent weapon in the police’s fight against illegal betting is advertising. Man Tat-shing, the superintendent of Hong Kong’s Organized Crime and Triad Bureau, recently announced that his task force would be running messages at popular venues to watch football, including bars and malls, warning of the dangers of illegal gambling.
To bet on sports in Hong Kong is not illegal, but supply is strictly limited to government-approved providers. Most wagering in Hong Kong is done on horse racing and soccer. While a number of land-based and online bookmakers have been approved as legal for citizens to play at, illegal operators continue to do healthy business as well.
Law enforcement will also be spreading the word to youth via schools and the Internet, having signed on for an advertising campaign with the Ping Wo Fund to “spread the message on websites frequented by the young.”
Man said that “We will pass the message to schools and hope more schools can spread the word on their websites. In turn we hope students will take the message back to their homes.”
During the 2006 World Cup, Hong Kong police reported 342 arrested in 189 separate bookmaking sting operations, but very few of those arrests were related to online gaming. “Cyber gambling has been more prevalent over the past few years,” said Man. “We will take proactive action to collect intelligence relating to such activities.”
Man went on to say that his crime division “will be contacting service providers of website companies to get information regarding illegal gambling online.”
Earlier in May, Hong Kong police announced the arrest of seven people in four different raids, with illegal gambling activities involved worth over HK$550,000 ($70,500). Current law in Hong Kong states that those charged with illegal gambling face a maximum penalty of HK$300,000 ($38,500) and nine months in prison.