With just four days of play in the 2010 FIFA World Cup completed, the Metropolitan Police Bureau (BMP) has reported 259 arrests for illegally betting on sports in Thailand. The number represents about double the figure reported at this point during the 2006 World Cup.
BMP spokesman Major General Piya Uthayo reported that the arrests had taken place at seven bookmakers and that five “suspected debt collectors” were also rounded up in the sting operation. The police seized 513,000 baht ($15,800) in cash and betting slips in the raids. Uthayo also reported that zero minors have been arrested in the police’s efforts to deter illegal sports betting, crediting recent efforts addressing youth gambling in stemming the tide.
As for the authorities’ effort to clamp down on illegal Internet gambling in Thailand, mixed results were reported. The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology has reportedly firewalled 200 casinos from access to Thai citizens, but this claim seems dubious at best with no evidence to support it.
Thailand is home to some of the most oppressive gambling laws in Asia. The 70-year old law carries a maximum sentence of a 1,000 baht (about $31) fine and/or a prison sentence of one year for gambling illegally, though Internet gaming is not addressed by Thai law. Thai online gamblers therefore usually play at foreign-hosted Internet casinos operated in countries outside jurisdiction of the Thai police.