Police from Macau, Hong Kong and mainland China are stepping up enforcement action against illegal football betting as the World Cup nears.
Police from both Special Administrative Regions and from Guangdong province have launched a month-long crackdown on illegal football gambling, Hong Kong Standard newspaper reports.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil kicks off on June 12 with the final set for July 13.
In June 2010, Macau’s casino revenue declined 20 percent from the previous month, a drop that was attributed by some financial analysts to the World Cup keeping some gamblers away from gaming tables and slot machines.
Gambling revenue for the casinos fell to MOP13.6 billion (US$1.7 billion) in June 2010 from MOP17.1 billion in May. It went up to MOP16.3 billion in July.
Deutsche Bank analyst Karen Tang wrote in July 2010 that Macau’s gambling industry would continue to be hurt by “temporary softness in VIP gaming as the World Cup approaches its final stages”.
“We expect market growth to resume sequentially in August, which is traditionally the summer travel season,” she wrote in a note to clients at the time.
Illegal betting on World Cup matches usually surges across Asia during the tournament. The rewards of increased betting volume are attractive to the organisers, even though the risk of arrest is typically heightened.
Police in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and China, including Macau and Hong Kong, arrested more than 5,000 people in the period of the 2010 World Cup tournament in South Africa, according to Interpol.
Across the Asia Pacific region, police raided more than 800 illegal gambling operations, allegedly handling more than US$155 million in bets, the international policing agency said in a statement in July 2010.
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"I am not going to speculate on what the [casino licence refreshment] tender requirements would be. I have full confidence and faith in the Macau government to treat everyone fairly"
Wilfred Wong Ying Wai
President and chief operating officer of Macau-based casino operator Sands China