The Judiciary Police (PJ) announced on Thursday the arrests of three men from South Korea on suspicion of having run an illegal football and basketball gambling operation since November involving about HK$7 million in illegal bets.
The trio are suspected of collecting illicit wagers on football and basketball games from their compatriots in South Korea and then placing the bets in Macau as it is illegal to gamble on sports games in Korea.
PJ spokesman Choi Iat Ping made the announcement during a special press conference at the PJ headquarters, pointing out that there are probably more people in South Korea involved in the illegal betting ring thus the PJ would inform their counterparts in South Korea about the case through Interpol.
The three suspects comprise a 25-year-old surnamed Lee, a 32-year-old surnamed Park and a 33-year-old surnamed Lim, said the spokesman, adding that the threesome were arrested on Tuesday in a flat in the luxury residential estate Villa de Mer in Areia Preta.
PJ officers searched the flat after receiving a tip-off early Tuesday that a clandestine business was being run there. The officers found three men living in the flat with many computers the number of which was unusual for a residential unit, as well as a large quantity of IT-related equipment, said the spokesman.
The spokesman also said that the three men started renting the flat last November when they arrived in the city. Later they bought the computers and set up a website.
According to the spokesman, police believe that the three suspects and other members of the ring asked their potential clients to create an Internet account and once the clients had deposited money into a designated bank account in South Korea they were able to bet on football and basketball games.
As betting on football and basketball is banned in South Korea, most of the clients were national of that country. In total there were about 100 customers, said the spokesman, adding that illegal bets worth HK$7 million were recorded.
The suspects took about HK$100,000 in wagers every day, the spokesman said.
The spokesman also said that it was the first case involving South Koreans running an illegal betting business in Macau in the past decade or so, adding that the three suspects will be transferred to the Public Prosecution Office (MP) for further questioning and possible arraignment on illegal gambling and organised crime charges. (macaunews/macaupost)