56 bookie suspects held over $10m bets

POLICE have arrested 56 suspected illegal football bookies who are believed to have taken up to $10 million worth of World Cup bets.

Officers carried out four separate raids on several suspected syndicates, the first occurring even before the World Cup started on June 13.

They seized about $2.8 million in cash along with betting paraphernalia as part of a "hard and fast" clampdown on unauthorised betting.

Superintendent of Police Lawrence Eng, who heads the Specialised Crime Branch of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), said: "Bookmakers who assume they can hide behind the anonymity of the Internet to commit criminal offences will face the full extent of the law upon their arrest."

He also warned members of the public to "steer clear of illegal betting websites".

In the latest operation at 4am on Thursday - the kick-off time of the semi-final match between Argentina and the Netherlands - 12 men and three women aged between 26 and 61 were arrested.

They were nabbed during islandwide raids at locations including Tampines, Lorong Salleh in Eunos, Bukit Batok, Hougang, Aljunied, Punggol, Pine Close in Mountbatten, Bartley, Bedok and Anchorvale.

Cash amounting to $860,000, as well as computers, mobile phones, laptops and documents such as betting records were seized by officers from the CID and Police Intelligence Department.

According to preliminary investigations, the suspects caught in Thursday's raids are believed to have received bets amounting to an estimated $880,000 in the past three weeks. All 56 suspects are still being investigated.

Last year, 640 people were arrested in Singapore for illegal gambling and betting activities. Another 1,150 were nabbed for similar offences in 2012.

A total of 1,009 people were arrested for illegal gambling and betting activities in Singapore during the previous World Cup in 2010.

Under the Betting Act, anybody convicted of betting with a bookmaker can be fined up to $5,000 and jailed for up to six months.

Those involved in bookmaking are liable to a fine of between $20,000 and $200,000, and up to five years behind bars, upon conviction. waltsim@sph.com.sg

This article was first published on July 12, 2014.
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