July 5, 2012 - 16:01 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Malaysian police have detained 100 people in nationwide raids on international crime syndicates who bet millions of dollars on the Euro 2012 championship, reports said Thursday, July 5.
Police conducted almost 150 raids across the country in May and June in collaboration with officials from China, Macau, Hong Kong and Singapore among other nations, crime investigation chief Bakri Zinin told local media.
He said the suspects from five syndicates were involved in betting worth more than 49 million ringgit ($16 million) on European Football Championship matches and several computers and mobile phones were seized in the raids.
Among those arrested were two Singaporeans and two Indonesians, the reports in the New Straits Times and The Star quoted Bakri as saying. He could not be reached for comment.
Football is hugely popular in Malaysia, but sports betting is illegal and those found guilty can be jailed.
Corruption has long blighted football in Asia, particularly in Malaysia, Vietnam and China. The Asian Football Confederation has described match-fixing as a "cancer" that is destroying the game.
"Sharing of information is the key to nabbing these syndicates, and FIFA is monitoring our operations against these bookies," said Bakri, adding that football's ruling body FIFA was monitoring Malaysia's operations against the suspects.
Most gambling is illegal outside of Malaysia's sole casino resort, which is in the Genting Highlands, near Kuala Lumpur.
In July 2010, Hong Kong and mainland Chinese police busted a large cross-border illegal football gambling syndicate, seizing betting slips worth more than $1 billion dollars.
Like in Malaysia, punters in Hong Kong face restrictions on what they can bet on and - as in mainland China - there are no casinos.