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Saturday 24 March 2018

Eight accused of World Cup bet ring

An illegal World Cup gambling ring is said to have been run from the Caesars Palace hotel-casino in Las Vegas (AP)
An illegal World Cup gambling ring is said to have been run from the Caesars Palace hotel-casino in Las Vegas (AP)

Eight people from Malaysia, China and Hong Kong have been accused of operating an illegal gambling ring in Las Vegas that logged millions of dollars in bets on World Cup football matches.

Wei Seng Phua, 50, a suspected organised crime member, and the others were named in a criminal complaint detailing the scheme to take bets over wi-fi and DSL lines installed by casino employees in their suites at Caesars Palace.

During their court arraignment, a federal judge granted a request that Phua and his son, a co-defendant, stay with a Las Vegas doctor and poker enthusiast while awaiting a preliminary hearing on August 4.

Phua, who is said to be worth an estimated 400 million dollars (£235m) must post two million dollars' bail, wear a GPS monitoring device and put up his 48 million-dollar (£28m) private Gulfstream jet as collateral, among other conditions.

FBI and Nevada Gaming Control Board agents made the arrests on Sunday after raids in three Caesars suites. Agents reported finding a laptop computer logging illegal wagers and other records.

US attorney Daniel Bogden said the Las Vegas operation began shortly after Phua left the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau, where he had been arrested on June 18 and posted bail on similar allegations of illegal wagering on World Cup soccer games.

Mr Bogden identified Phua, from Malaysia, as a high-ranking member of 14K Triad, an organised crime group.

The others arrested were Phua's son Darren Wai Kit Phua, 22; Seng Chen Yong, 56, and Wai Kin Yong, 22, all from Malaysia; Hui Tang, 44, of China; and Yan Zhang, 40, Yung Keung Fan, 46, and Herman Chun Sang Yeung, 36, all of Hong Kong.

None of the suspects entered pleas at the hearing.

If convicted, each could face up to two years in prison on an unlawful transmission count and up to five years on an illegal gambling business count, as well as fines on each count of up to 250,000 dollars (£147,000).

The prosecutor said casino officials co-operated in setting up computer equipment in the three rooms but became concerned that the arrangement, which featured multiple monitors and large television screens tuned to World Cup games, appeared to be a set-up for an illegal gambling operation.

Press Association

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