Thai arrests made as Euro 2004 kicks off
By abigail
There is expected to be a significant increase in gambling revenues generated in Asian countries during the course of Euro 2004, compared to the amounts wagered in the 2002 world cup and the same competition in 2000. European football is incredibly popular in these territories, and the combination of increased coverage of the games thanks to satellite television with increased accessibility to means of placing bets thanks to mobile phones and the internet, should see a sharp rise in the amounts of bets placed.

With most forms of gambling being illegal in these regions, authorities are working hard to try and extinguish this betting, but their efforts are likely to be largely unsuccessful, as the passions for both gambling and football in Asia are impossible to stamp out.

In Singapore, where the state-owned Singapore Pools is the single legal format for placing bets on football matches, the amounts wagered during the last world cup was estimated to be 294 million dollars- which equates to 70 dollars per citizen, if you count every adult and child.

In Thailand the rise is anticipated to result in wagers amounting to approximately 814 million dollars, again due to technological improvements, as well as an improving economy throughout the country. However, with most forms of gambling being illegal, the national enthusiasm is not without its casualties. Over Saturday and Sunday, so far 353 people, 31 of whom are believed to be bookies, have been arrested on suspicion of gambling. The maximum punishment for illegal gambling is one year in prison, but even this fact is not thought to dissuade the enthusiasts to continue to bet on matches throughout the tournament.

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