PHUKET: Phuket authorities are preparing to crack down on gambling during the soccer World Cup that kicks off on June 11.
Phuket Governor Wichai Phraisa-ngop told a law enforcement committee at Provincial Hall on May 26 that locals and tourists would be keenly following the tournament, not only for the love of the game, but also for gambling.
Gov Wichai ordered Phuket police to rigorously check for any illegal betting shops that could open during the tournament, which finishes on July 11.
School and college students were among those at risk of getting involved in the illegal and addictive pastime, he warned.
People were increasingly gambling on websites hosted both in and outside the country, making it hard for police to enforce the law, he said.
Nevertheless, anyone caught gambling would be prosecuted – including police officers themselves, he said.
Parents needed to be vigilant, keeping a close eye on how much money their children were spending, he said.
The media should also promote the World Cup as a sporting event, not a gambling opportunity, he added.
Phuket Provincial Police Commander Pekad Tantipong said that the police already had a policy to crack down on World Cup gambling, and that gambling was “always a big problem, not only in Phuket.”
Phuket City Police Superintendent Wanchai Ekpornpit asked people to call the police if they became aware of any illegal gambling activities.
“We will go and arrest them immediately. Their children will see an example of what happens to gamblers,” he warned.
During the UEFA Euro 2008 tournament, in June and July that year, Phuket police arrested 151 people in 42 gambling cases.
During the 2006 World Cup they arrested 229 people in 70 cases.
— Sitthipong Nongkaew
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