With the FIFA World Cup now over, illegal football betting rings, which openly thrived at coffee shops and internet cafes during the monthlong tournament, are likely to see their trade dwindle.
A 31-year-old hotel receptionist who asked to be identified as “Smart” is one of many who placed bets on games during the competition, but says he and his friends will now stop.
“Many people like to support and watch and bet on the World Cup. It’s only once every four years and it makes us feel good,” he said yesterday in a Daun Penh coffee shop, wearing the colours of the triumphant German national team.
“I would just call my friend, and he was betting for me online through a [broker]. There was no problem with police, but mostly I kept losing money because of extra time and penalty wins.”
Thousands gathered at the riverside to watch the Germany-Argentina final on a jumbo screen in the early hours yesterday and it was clear that many had a financial, as well as a sporting interest, in the game.
Vuth, 28, who works at a small internet and coffee shop near the Central Market, said yesterday he had an average of about 20 customers watching each game throughout the tournament, with most always placing bets.
“I think everybody bets,” he said. “We were allowing people to bet here until . . . we heard about police clamping down.”
Phnom Penh deputy police chief Chuon Narin said police raided and closed several internet cafes for allowing illegal gambling, though he could not specify an exact number.
“About six cases involving an average of about 10 people each were sent to court for allowing people to bet money at their places,” he said.
Police also carried out raids in several provinces.
In what appears to have been the final World Cup-related raid, Kandal provincial police arrested two internet cafe owners and nine bettors on Sunday, the National Police announced yesterday on its website.