Thai police go down hard on gamblers

BANGKOK: Thai police have arrested more than 500 gamblers and bookmakers in a crackdown on football betting since the start of the Euro 2004 championships, police said Monday. 

Police said they had arrested 51 bookies and 464 gamblers since the championships kicked off in Portugal, and seized 197,430 baht (US$5,800) in cash and about 243 million baht (5.59 million dollars) in betting slips. 

Thai police last week ordered local Internet providers to block access to England-based betting web sites in an effort to stem record gambling expected in the kingdom during the ongoing Euro 2004. 

Football betting is illegal in Thailand, but it is a massive underground industry fuelled by the country's passion for football and obsession for gambling on anything from kick-boxing to fighting fish.  

The kingdom's crackdown has forced thousands of Thais to flock to neighbouring Cambodia's casinos near the border to place bets on Euro 2004. – AFP  

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