An illegal website with ties to the Philippines that was targeting South Korean gamblers has been busted by authorities. The sports betting activity was reportedly using a hotel-casino as its base of operations, according to the Yonhap News Agency.
Some 130 people were taken into custody in South Korea as part of an alleged criminal ring tied to the site.
However, only nine people were arrested, including one individual who reportedly ran the operations.
The website is now dismantled, however, before shutting down the operation had grown quite large, according to Yonhap News Agency. The outfit had reportedly taken over $1.09 billion in wagers in the past 2 and a half years.
Case in the Making
The investigation was overseen by the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency through its international crime investigation unit. The investigation began in September 2019 after police were tipped off to a suspicious activity.
Two years later, police moved in to shut down the operations. Police uncovered was a string of activities that included the broadcasting of live sports games from a venue in the Philippines. This was tied to a sports betting portal run through an unnamed website, with the illegal sportsbook functioning from at least July 2018, if not earlier.
The investigation ultimately linked 150 people. The twenty not taken into custody are now wanted suspects that have “red notices” flagged to their identification. A red notice goes out to all linked law enforcement agencies around the world, notifying them that the individual is wanted for questioning or apprehension.
When the bust was made, police reportedly confiscated around $673,200 (KRW800 million), which had been received through the criminal enterprise. The funds were sent using cryptocurrency.
South Korea’s Illegal Gaming
This latest collapse of an illegal gambling operation in South Korea follows a line of recent busts.
In September, Hong Kong police detained more than 800 suspects tied to EURO 2020 wagers over the summer. Among those arrested was the alleged kingpin of a triad-controlled sports betting syndicate.
Last June, law enforcement arrested 17 after raids on two illegal sportsbooks in Busan– South Korea’s second most popular city. That resulted in around $1.7 million in cash, three apartments, and two houses being seized.
Legal Gaming in South Korea
South Korea has two official and legal sportsbooks, Sports Toto and Sports Proto. They aren’t as robust as what bettors can find with some of the online alternatives, and they’re both controlled by South Korea’s national lottery.
Sports Toto is a pari-mutuel platform meaning the bets are pooled and then split equally between winners.
Sports Proto is closer to the standard sports betting website that all bettors around the globe would expect to find. Fixed odds are used, and bettors accept the odds displayed at the time they place a wager. There are a few limitations to this platform, though. First, only basketball and baseball are found. Second, payouts are usually lower than those offered by sites that compete in open markets.
Online betting through offshore sites has become highly popular because of the limitations.
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