Burned by World Cup bets

It was a massive gamble, one that used up the life savings of his 73-year-old mother and his two sisters.

The salesman in Malaysia asked them for RM50,000 (S$19,500), and his older brother also borrowed RM15,000 from a friend and passed the sum to him.

But none of them knew that the money was not for starting a business, but for betting on World Cup matches.

The 35-year-old father of two children, aged eight and 15, who also borrowed RM100,000 from loan sharks, went into hiding after the final between Germany and Argentina.

The salesman's brother, known only as Leong, said this was the first time his brother had asked his family for money.

"We tried calling him, but he is not answering the phone," Leong, 45, said. "My brother also used company money to place bets."

"I am also in a dilemma because I now have to quickly pay back the RM15,000 that I borrowed," he said. "I am only a hawker. How am I going to raise such a sum so soon?"

The salesman is just one of the Malaysians who have been bitten by the World Cup bug - and not in a good way, reported The Star. Other punters even mortgaged their homes and used their cars as collateral to place bets with bookies.


Six men, who lost a total of RM1 million from bets made with bookies and websites, have approached the Perak Bari­san Nasional Public Service and Com­plaints Bureau in Ipoh for help.

One of them, a 60-year-old retired teacher, lost nearly RM100,000.

One result, Brazil 1 Germany 7, was especially damaging for them.

"The punters told me they had bet on certain strong teams and it had all backfired. Most of them were on the verge of crying and were pleading for help," Mr Mohd Rawi, the bureau's chief, said.

"They kept asking me to get the loan sharks and moneylenders to give them a grace period of six months to a year to settle.

"These people are in a fix because their families have no idea that they have lost so much."

Federal Secret Societies, Gambling and Vice Division principal assistant director Senior Asst Comm Roslee Chik said 454 people were arrested for involvement in gambling rackets in raids conducted between June 26 and July 14.

During the last World Cup in 2010, 227 people were arrested.

But it is not just punters who felt the pinch at this World Cup.

Malaysian bookies said that fewer people placed bets this time, compared to 2010.

One bookie in George Town, Penang, said his turnover in 2010 was more than RM5 million, but he made only RM1.9 million this time.

Another bookie, who wanted to be identified only as "Mr K", said: "Although I'm a small-time bookie, I could easily get RM100,000 in bets per match in 2010.

"This year, I got only about RM20,000 to RM30,000."

Both speculated that it was because of people turning to betting websites.

One bookie said that those who bet on Brazil suffered heavy losses.

"Many thought Brazil would be in the final because they were the host country and the 'samba kings'," he said.

Another bookie said: "Even when Brazil lost in the semis, many punters still thought the team would make it to third place."

"So, sorry, only the bookies were winners after that one."

This article was first published on July 18, 2014.
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