Young Thais hooked on football betting
BANGKOK (AFP): Hundreds of thousands of Thailand’s young football fans are addicted to gambling on foreign matches, the government said in a report released today. Some 300,000 football-crazed students wager 50 million baht (1.1 million dollars) every day, according to ruling Thai Rak Thai party politician Poom Sarapon. A recent survey shows that most of the kingdom’s football gamblers are university and secondary school students pinning their fortunes on matches in Britain’s Premier League, Italy’s Serie A and Germany’s Bundesliga, he said. More than 900 million baht has been anted up on championship matches this season alone, he added. Wagering on football matches is illegal but widespread in Thailand, where police last year arrested 192 people in a crackdown on a gambling spree sparked by the Euro 2000 championships. The amount of money spent per person in Thailand on football gambling is staggering. One bank study estimated that Thais spent more than 520 million dollars on the Euro 2000 matches alone. Thai police began a major operation last year to bear down on football bookmakers, and have been looking for long-term measures to rid the country of the practice. Although Thailand has a national football league, most Thais prefer to watch European football, often staying up until late at night to watch British matches live.
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