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HONG KONG - Hong Kong police have set up a task force to combat the problem of illegal gambling on football matches during the World Cup starting next month
Officials said yesterday the task force will bring together officers from all over Hong Kong who will be coordinated by experts from the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau.
The plan was revealed by Home Affairs Secretary Tsang Tak-sing in response to a written question on illegal gambling posed by lawmakers this week.
Gambling is a popular activity in Hong Kong, but is strictly controlled and is illegal except for betting on horse racing and overseas football matches through the official Jockey Club and a government-run lottery.
However, illegal gambling syndicates, often run by triad gangs with links in mainland China, continued to thrive in the former British colony, and in recent years are proving themselves to be ever-more inventive to avoid detection in the face of constant police crackdowns.
A recent trend has seen illegal bookmaking syndicates moving their operation bases to places outside Hong Kong and using websites registered offshore to lure gamblers.
In October last year, a 10-day police operation identified 12 such offshore gambling sites, one of which had taken illegal bets totalling about R98millionover the last year.
Tsang said yesterday police would be closely monitoring Internet gambling activities in the run-up and during the World Cup which starts on June 11.
"To combat the relevant crime, the Technology Crime Division of the police will conduct cyber patrols," Tsang said. "The police have strategies in place to combat illegal gambling and will adjust the operational deployment flexibly depending on the situation."
Tsang added they would also conduct training sessions for officers to raise their awareness of the latest developments in Internet gambling activities. So far this year, police have arrested seven people in connection will illegal bookmaking involving bets worth about R485000. - Sapa-dpa