Thai bankers crack down on gambling
By Paul
Thai bankers have called on the government to make gambling a crime under the Anti-Money-Laundering Act, as cash transactions are expected to peak during the World Cup due to widespread gambling.

However, the proportion of transactions directly related to gambling would be hard to determine, acknowledged Chatchai Srirasmi, chairman of the Processing Centre Co, a major shareholder in Thai Credit Bureau Co.

``If the government wants to effectively suppress soccer gambling it should amend the Anti Money Laundering Act to include it as one of the activities that require reporting by commercial banks,'' he said.

Chatchai said that if the legislation were tightened, all ATM transactions would be recorded and data would be processed to focus on habitual gamblers.

Police expect that the volume of gambling during the World Cup could be as high as 20 billion baht ($0.47 billion). According to an Abac Poll survey, nearly 400,000 people in Bangkok and over two million people nationwide would bet during the World Cup gambling a total of about 9.3 billion baht ($0.21 billion)

Bangkok is an international brokerage for soccer betting, servicing bookmakers in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia and the United Kingdom, the biggest centres for gambling.

``This is a problem stemming from globalisation. Now the gambling market is an open market and not ruled under the World Trade Organisation,” said Dr Somkiat Osotsapha of the Institute of Social and Economic Policy

A local bookie said that more police surveillance was unlikely to stop people from gambling as the bets were mostly made by telephone.

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