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, reported
World Soccer News (WSN) on June 28.
In Phnom Penh, local police and officials from football betting syndicate CamboSix
told the Post heavy wagering is expected for the extent of the Asian Cup to be held
from July 7 to July 29, much of it via the Internet.
A CamboSix employee told the Post on June 28 that regional tournaments such as the
Asian and Tiger Cups are immensely popular with local punters, but not yet as popular
as the World Cup.
"In the last Asian Cup we had huge business in the shops and over the Internet,"
said the employee who declined to be named. "I cannot estimate how much we will
have next month, but I would assume it will be the same amount."
In March, the Ministry of Finance announced that CamboSix had been awarded another
four-year monopoly on sports gambling in Cambodia. At the time, the betting juggernaut
also retained its exclusive legal authority to conduct Internet football wagering.
Asian gambling expert Ted Loh told the Post that the revenue generated by CamboSix's
online ventures could possibly exceed the profits from its 21 betting franchises
across the Kingdom. Loh said CamboSix is an attractive option for gamblers in Thailand
and Vietnam-where gambling is outlawed.
According to WSN, one economic research center estimated that Thais bet nearly one
billion dollars on the 2006 World Cup.
Thai police arrested more than 750 people for illegal gambling during the four-week
tournament last year.
The Asian Cup, co-hosted by Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam, is expected
to attract such business but nowhere near the scale of the World Cup.
Even though communist Vietnam outlaws gambling, which is considered a "social
evil," betting on football remains popular and widespread.
In April the Ho Chi Minh City People's Court jailed 12 members of an illegal online
football betting ring and handed suspended terms to 10 more defendants.
The network had taken online bets worth up to $50,000 dollars per day on matches
in the Vietnamese domestic league and on games played in Germany, Italy, Spain, England
and in the European Championships.
Illegal bets are expected to be placed on the Asian Cup.
Asian Football Confederation president Mohammed bin Hammam has called for betting
to be made legal so it can be managed, and countries that have followed this path
In Cambodia betting is legal and monopolized by CamboSix. In a previous interview
Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay estimated that CamboSix was making at least $3
million per year. He added that the betting juggernaut contributes only 2 or 3 percent
of its revenue in taxes.
"Think about it: this is supposedly a free market economy where the government
can award a monopoly? There is no government system in place to control the cash
flow, Chhay told the Post in March. "To operate a business of this size you
must be close to the ruling CPP."
According to Loh, there are no fixed regulations on online gaming in Asia.