Cops go after World Cup gamblers
Celebs targeted over betting portal promos
Police plan to summon and charge around 100 celebrities and online beauty presenters for allegedly promoting illegal football gambling websites.
Phanurat Lakboon, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Bureau, in his capacity as director of an operation against World Cup football gambling, said Monday that the suspects may face a maximum prison term of one year and/or a maximum fine of 1,000 baht.
Section 12 of the gambling law prohibits all forms of advertising and acts encouraging others to gamble, he said.
Investigators will next week begin summoning them 10 at a time to face charges, he added.
Pol Maj Gen Phanurat also warned parents to pay more attention to what their children are up to during the 2018 World Cup in Russia, which runs from Thursday until July 15.
"Parents will have to be more vigilant regarding their children's activities during the World Cup, otherwise they could face legal action for breaking the 2003 Child Protection Act," he said.
The police are also working together with the Office of the Basic Education Commission to raise awareness among students at more than 30,000 schools nationwide that gambling on football is against the law, he said.
Police have a team tasked with identifying websites based in Thailand offering football gambling services, he said, adding that as soon as they are located, they will immediately face legal action.
Entertainment venues are also being warned against allowing or organising gambling on the tournament, an offence that may lead to them being closed down, he said.
A total of 722 people were arrested between May 1 and Jun 10 for involvement in football gambling, he said.
Of this number, five were providers of gambling services, 715 were gamblers and two worked for the service providers handling customers for them, he said.
The Royal Thai Police will work together with the Anti-Money Laundering Office to seize assets of 3,199 people arrested between Jan 1 and May 31 in football gambling cases.
The Centre for Economic and Business Forecasting at the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, meanwhile, estimated that at least 78.3 billion baht extra will be circulating in the country's economy during the upcoming World Cup, 60 billion of which will be due to undocumented transactions and gambling.
Elsewhere in the country, Damrongsak Kittipraphat, chief of Provincial Police Region 3, which takes care of the lower northeastern provinces, said his office has also opened a centre to suppress football gambling.
The centre has already compiled a list of people operating illegal football gambling services in the province, he said.
The problem is that more gamblers have now turned to online gambling services, which makes it more difficult for the police to track them, he added.