The 2018 World Cup is well underway, and many sports betting fans are getting in on the action around the world. So far, the World Cup has produced some thrillers and upsets that have left many fans scratching their heads while other fans are celebrating in the streets. “No one could have predicted this” one soccer fan said.
It is no surprise that international football fans are betting on their home teams and enjoying the 2018 World Cup as it unfolds. What is surprising is how many fans are illegally betting on the match-ups when there are plenty of ways to legally bet on soccer. Illegal gambling has been a huge problem for authorities in Asian countries where sports betting is still illegal. Countries such as Thailand and Malaysia where gambling is strictly prohibited are often the target of illegal gambling activities.
Today the operations have shifted, and now many illegal bookmakers have started using advanced technology to assist in their illegal gambling activities. Illegal bookmakers are now using cryptocurrencies and mobile apps to help facilitate their illegal operations. Cryptocurrencies work great for illegal activities since the funds are harder and sometimes impossible to trace. Authorities in Hong Kong said most of the illegal World Cup bets are taking place over web-based applications such as WeChat. Many authorities have stated that cryptocurrencies make it easier for illegal operators to facilitate illegal bets.
Illegal betting in Asia has grown into a multi-billion dollar a year industry and authorities are now forced to take action illegal black market betting. Hong Kong’s Jockey Club predicts that Hong Kong’s illegal betting industry will gross at least $68 billion. Other areas such as South Korea are also expected to gross $79 billion in illegal gambling operations.
The Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ignited a war on illegal gambling and has been cooperating with China and other countries to help combat illegal gambling activities stemming from the Philippines. There first joint venture was in April of 2017 when together they busted four illegal casinos operating out of the Philippines. The Philippine National Police arrested more than 99 people, and Philippine and Chinese authorities froze over 1,000 bank accounts.
The Philippines chief of the National Bureau of Investigation cyber-crimes division Martini Cruz, told officials back in April that they were targeting more illegal gambling activities and online fraud cases originating from the Philippines. Most of these illegal operations target China and other countries where online gambling is strictly prohibited but accessible over the internet. Since 2017, China and the Philippines have been working closely together to help rid Asia of black market crimes and fugitives abroad.
So far, the joint crackdown has not targeted proxy betting which is legal in the Philippines but outlawed in places such as Singapore and Macau. Proxy betting is making a wager through a legitimate casino via a third-party. This type of betting is often used by people who want to avoid detection in their home country where gambling is often illegal. Andrea Domingo is the current head of PAGCOR, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation and she stated she had not yet heard of proxy betting back in 2017.
Experts say that Asia accounts for nearly 80% of the illegal gambling industry on a world scale an estimated $500 billion-dollar industry. During the 2014 World Cup, Asian authorities cracked down on several criminal gangs and targeted their sports betting rings. Now that the 2018 World Cup is underway authorities have again stepped up patrol to crack down on illegal gambling across Asia. This year the crackdown has already busted one football betting ring operating out of the Philippines said to be worth $26 million.
The Philippines is a hotbed for online gambling operators as they are one of the only countries in Asia to issue legal licensing and regulate the industry. Legal license holders are not allowed to offer their services to areas that strictly forbid online gambling, and for the most part, PAGCOR makes sure it doesn’t happen.