SINGAPORE ~ Betting on major sporting events is illegal in much of Asia but it remains rampant, and police across the region are on full alert ahead of the Asian Cup finals.
Asians like a flutter with money changing hands at market stalls or in underground gambling dens, often run by organized crime syndicates. More still is waged on burgeoning online gambling websites.
Some of Asia’s biggest betters are in China, where underground rings are rife. In 2005, a man was jailed for 30 months in a football gambling case involving more than US$75 million.
Police said heavy betting was expected on the July 7-29 Asian Cup, much of it via the internet, but refused to disclose details of their anti-gambling plans.
Chinese police set up a special squad last year to combat illegal gambling on football, with the national Super League unable to shake allegations of corruption in the shape of “black whistles,” or bribed referees.