Police in Thailand say they have broken up an alleged online gambling network said to operate about 500 illegal betting websites.
According to local media outlet The Nation, the Crime Suppression Division police said in a Monday briefing that the suspected gang had been operating for more than 10 years, having recruited about 2,000 people to staff its illegal activities.
Officers are said to have conducted raids in 63 locations across 14 provinces in Thailand. The raids were focused on Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Phitsanulok, Maha Sarakham, Saraburi and Sa Kaeo, according to the report.
The authorities said the alleged gang came to light after a separate bust in Thailand in September, when the police arrested 30 suspects across 10 provinces.
Thailand has been stepping up efforts to crack down on illegal online gambling in the country. Several high-profile operations have been conducted in recent months: in late October, police said it had bust a Chinese-owned online gambling operation, with an estimate daily turnover of THB500 million (US$14.0 million). It employed about 50 people and targeted mainly Chinese nationals, according to reports at the time.
In May, a number of minority political parties in Thailand submitted a draft amendment to the country’s Gambling Act, with the aim of legalising not only land-based casino business in that nation, but also online gambling.
Other political voices in Thailand that favour legalising bricks-and-mortar casinos – but stop short of supporting the legalisation of online gambling - have argued even that step could help curb the extent of unregulated gambling in Thailand.
In late July, a parliamentary committee exploring the introduction of casino resorts in Thailand submitted a report to the National Assembly.
The document is said to recommend the government issue a decree allowing “entertainment complexes” that include legal casinos, to be set up at a number of locations across the country.
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