Thais will ban 1900 prefix phone betting
By Paul
1900-prefixed phone numbers breach Thailand’s gambling act, according to Interior Minister Purachai Piumsombun, and will be shut down by police. The phone numbers allow people to predict World Cup scores to win prizes, but lucky draws printed in newspapers have been ruled legal, and will continue.

The phone line operators say they will appeal to the Administrative Court's to protect their business. Calls to the 1900 numbers cost nine baht a minute and operators make a profit on each call. Each caller spends an average 2-3 minutes accessing the phone line and placing a prediction.

Pol Maj-Gen Jet Mongkolhatti, assistant commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau, said there were more customers than rewards available, so phone-line operators must choose winners. This involved ``entertaining the odds'' based on luck and was, in legal terms, gambling. As It did not fall into one of the categories a gambling permit could be applied for and therefore violated Article 4, which carries a maximum one-year jail and/or a fine of 1,000 baht.

Samart Info Media, Infotel, Thai Audiotext, Q Line, Thai Televoice and 108 1900Audiotext all provide prediction services for soccer matches through telephone numbers with the 1900 prefix. They said they wanted to operate the service during the month-long World Cup, which starts on May 31. Afterwards they say they will co-operate with police to legalise the service.

Samart Info Media's general manager Tawee Udomkitchot said the company could lose more than 10 million baht it has invested on media advertisements and expansion of telephone lines to provide the service.

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