Illegal gambling rings were put on notice, as Hong Kong police announced a major breakthrough against Triad-controlled gambling. Local authorities arrested 18 people in connection with the largest illegal gambling operation in the last decade. Police disclosed that the illegal bookies had handled over $400 million in bets on horse racing and soccer over the last four months.
Hong Kong authorities believe that the illegal betting operation had been in operation for a little over 12 months and that the ring had ties to the Wo Shing Wo Triads. Police moved in over the weekend as 16 men and two women were taken into custody in raids across Kowloon and the Hong Kong New Territories.
Cash and Luxury cars seized in raids
Police disclosed that more than 70 bank accounts had been frozen, containing $2. 5million. Authorities seized two luxury cars and more than one million dollars in cash. Police said the gang recruited customers through text messages and phone calls. Hong Kong police remain adamant that their most recent arrests will deal a significant blow to the Wo Shing Wo Triads, believed to be one of the first triad crime gangs in Hong Kong. The Wo Shing Wo plays a major role in controlling the drug trade through the Golden Triangle region in Asia and is notorious for infiltrating casino junket operations. It was also the subject of an inquiry in Australia that saw Crown Casino lose its license in New South Wales.
With several major sporting events occurring around the globe, Hong Kong police have stepped up their efforts to curb illegal gambling under Chinese rule. Local authorities have reported more than 168 arrests in connection with illegal gambling in the last month. The Wo Shing Wo are one of five major Triad societies in Hong Kong, that are part of a supergroup known as ‘The Company’ or ‘Sam Gor.’
Hong Kong Gambling Regulations
The Chinese mainland government has taken a tougher stance towards illegal gambling in the Hong Kong and Macau region. Mainland Chinese authorities remain concerned about the flow of foreign capital into the gambling industry in Hong Kong and Macau and have implanted tougher regulations. Hong Kong police brought to an end an underground casino last December and Macau police busted a criminal operation said to be worth over $1.7 billion annually as the crackdown continued, and several other organized criminal gangs have been uncovered, as well.
Gambling in Hong Kong is tightly regulated, with only a few major outlets available to locals to gamble. The Hong Kong Jockey Club is one of the few establishments in the region that provides legalized betting on major international sporting events and local horse racing. Locals in Hong Kong also have the option of playing the local lottery in one of the few outlets available.