Korean authorities indicted four suspects on illegal gambling charges

The South Korean media is reporting another successful Korean police action against local representatives of foreign Internet gambling companies. Following the latest raid, the Seoul Central Prosecutors' Office confirmed that over the weekend it had indicted without bail four suspects on illegal gambling charges. The suspects allegedly allowed Korean Internet users to bet casino games webcast in real time over the Internet from a Philippines casino.

Several fugitive Korean accuseds are being pursued.

Prosecutors revealed that over 100 billion won in revenues for the illegal operation had been uncovered.

The alleged ringleader in the scheme is alleged to have opened a land casino In Manila in February 2007, hiring up to 30 Filipino dealers and installing webcasting equipment with which to broadcast live gambling on casino games including baccarat over the Internet, targeted on the Korean market through nine online gambling websites.

The ring changed Korean online gamblers' money into cyber chips and then let them make bets while watching the webcast. Winners reportedly had to pay 'commissions' to cash out the chips based on how much they bet and on which side, banker or player that they bet. It is claimed that one gambler was allowed to bet up to 120 million won.

Some of the online gamblers wired more than 100 million won for cyber chips. The ring reportedly generated revenues of over 100 billion won until it was stopped by police raids, with the alleged ringleader taking half of the earnings and the owners of the nine Korean gambling websites receiving a total of 15 percent. The remaining 35 percent went to "business partners" who recruited gamblers using Internet marketing techniques.

Prosecutors estimate that around 500 billion won was probably wagered by Korean punters on the nine sites. Police reported that in order to lend credibility to their claim that the live gambling was taking place in real time, the gambling ring presented CNN news television broadcasts on the same screen.

Spokesmen for the Seoul Central Prosecutors' Office said that the members of the gambling ring lived high on the proceeds of the venture, and that accumulated assets to the value of 12.3 billion won had so far been confiscated, including 4.35 billion won in real estate, 3.45 billion in bank accounts and 850 million won worth of luxury cars including a Mercedes Benz and Porsche. Police seized an additional 1.57 billion won in cash from the ring's Korean premises.

Two ring members are known to have fled abroad, and will be pursued with extradition proceedings said the spokesmen. In the meantime they have been indicted in absentia and moves are under way to confiscate their illegal earnings.

One of the indicted Koreans was additionally charged with operating an illegal online gambling site after he set up servers in Japan and Thailand and collected commissions from online gamblers. It is alleged that he earned 80 billion won until he was arrested and his site shut down. Three alleged accomplices are currently being sought and are believed to have escaped to Malaysia.

Prosecutors are also examining whether there have been any links to known organised crime families by the Internet gambling accuseds.

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