|Spoilsport police have arrested four bookmakers and seized slips amounting to 20 million Hong Kong dollars (2.6 million US dollars) in bets on World Cup soccer. |
They also seized 11 mobile phones and two computers in raids Friday evening, part of an intensified crackdown on World Cup gambling, police spokeswoman Suzanne Lee said.
Gambling is popular among Hong Kong Chinese, but for decades the only legal betting in the territory has been on lotteries and horse races. It is believed that the Hong Kong Jockey Club, who also run the lottery, prompted this particular ban amid fears it would lose revenue.
Days before the World Cup began, new laws were rushed into existence banning the use of a telephone or the Internet to place bets with offshore bookmakers.
There is no word from the police as to how such a small raid would have any effect on betting in the area, as soccer gambling is extremely popular and the numbers who support it under the threat of prosecution climb astronomically during events such as the World Cup. To date, police actions have had very little effect on telephone and online betting activities, and no turnaround of the situation is expected.
'We should be seeing fewer illegal betting activities in the following few days, but if they persist, police will take further action,' Hong Kong's police commissioner, Tsang Yam-Pui, told reporters Saturday.
Lawyer Jerry Chung said, however, 'It's hard to stop betting by those who think soccer gambling is decent, even with strict laws and punishments.'