Police Operation Dismantles Major Illegal Bookmaking Syndicate

In a major breakthrough, law enforcement agencies from Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macau have successfully dismantled a significant illegal bookmaking syndicate, resulting in the arrest of 93 suspects.

The Macau Judiciary Police reported that the syndicate, operational since 2016, had facilitated illegal betting activities totaling at least MOP$1.08 billion (US$134 million).

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Over 90 Suspects Apprehended

The coordinated crackdown led to the apprehension of 50 suspects in Macau, including two ringleaders and nine key operatives, all of whom are Macau residents. Simultaneously, Mainland police detained 42 individuals, and Hong Kong authorities arrested one suspect linked to the syndicate.

The investigation into the syndicate began following a 2022 money laundering case. Authorities uncovered that the group had been conducting online gambling operations for several years, with members dispersed across Macau, Hong Kong, and Guangdong.

The syndicate’s web server was hosted overseas, facilitating bets primarily on football and basketball games, including the ongoing Euro 2024 championships in Germany.

The syndicate attracted customers by offering competitive odds and round-the-clock online customer support.

The Syndicate used the Euro 2024 for illegal Betting Transactions

During the Euro 2024 tournament, the syndicate reportedly amassed more than MOP$72 million in illegal bets each week. Since its inception, the total betting amount processed by the syndicate is estimated at MOP$1.08 billion.

The joint operation, launched on June 29, involved over 200 police officers who arrested 50 suspects across various residential locations in Macau. The operation resulted in the seizure of more than MOP$8 million (US$994,000) in cash, 103 mobile phones, 26 computers, and other crucial evidence.

Illegal Bookmaking Syndicate Operations Remotely Controlled from Prison

The suspects, when interrogated, revealed their occupations as taxi drivers, salesmen, businessmen, and gaming operators. Notably, four suspects are currently serving prison sentences but were found to be controlling the syndicate remotely. Among the arrested was a 29-year-old customs officer, now under an internal disciplinary investigation by Macau Customs and suspended from duty as a precaution.

In Mainland China, police seized approximately RMB80 million (US$11 million) in cash and froze over 90 bank accounts. Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, police arrested a suspect who facilitated the syndicate in handling about HK$8 million in bets between June 2023 and March 2024.

During the investigation, it was also uncovered that four suspects had established an illegal casino in Macau, masquerading as a café, offering games like Texas Hold’em poker and other betting services.

Deputy Director of the Macau Judiciary Police, Sou Sio Keong, emphasized at a press conference the ongoing nature of the investigation, with authorities from all three regions committed to uncovering additional details and pursuing any remaining fugitives involved in this extensive illegal operation.

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