A few weeks back I blogged about the corruption engulfing the Japanese Sumo Wrestling world but that is but the tip of the iceberg when it comes to betting problems out in the Far East.
On Friday, we had the latest insight into the murky world of illegal gambling in Asia with over 5000 people arrested in a major operation led by Interpol. Around $15m was apprehended from over 800 ‘gambling dens’, which were raided in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand in a concerted operation. The question remains though as to the significance of these arrests and only serves to highlight a major problem for the authorities.
Renowned author on illegal Gambling, Declan Hill helped to share some colour on this story via his BBC viewpoint article, which is a fascinating read. He likens it to prohibition-era America, where alcohol consumption was illegal yet extremely popular, leading to the growth of an enormous underground industry with links to corruption and organised crime.
The same thing is occurring out in the Far East, with a huge interest in betting from the general population ultimately driving the whole industry underground.
What difference these arrests will make is up for question, indeed are they little more than a publicity stunt on the back of the World Cup? When you consider that back in 2006 this illegal industry was estimated to be as large as $450 Billion, the $15 Million figure confiscated in this bust is very insignificant.
In speaking with contacts in the betting industry in the UK, they have long painted the picture of some very big movers and shakers out in Asia moving large sums of money on European sport. Leagues as unfashionable as the Scottish 3rd division have much more invested on them than the 500 or so loyal fans that attend games by the likes of East Stirling will think possible.
Already we have also seen the influence that some so called Asian Bookies like SBOBet have brought to the betting market, offering to take large stakes and offering very competitive odds on football betting. It has really enhanced the options and also the returns possible from football betting.
It will be very interesting to see what comes out of these latest stories, is it the start of a concerted push against illegal gambling or will it all just die away only to fan into flames after the next major betting event?
Equally, what are the chances of betting being legalised in some of these countries in the future?
If you have thoughts or experiences to share in relation to this topic, do let us know here at SBC as we would love to hear from you.