, HONG KONG, Jun 13 – Hong Kong police said Sunday they have arrested 25 people for running a gambling ring that took bets on World Cup matches worth more than 66 million Hong Kong dollars (8.5 million US dollars).
Authorities launched a series of raids after the tournament kicked off Friday which have yielded the arrest of 19 men and six women, and the confiscation of betting slips for wagers placed online and by telephone, a police spokesman said.
Police also confiscated 350,000 Hong Kong dollars in cash, he told AFP.
"They have not been charged yet, but were arrested on suspicion of money laundering and accepting illegal wagers," the spokesman said.
Police earlier this year set up a task force including officers from its triad bureau, narcotics unit and commercial crime division to clamp down on illegal football gambling, the South China Morning Post reported.
Punters in the football-mad southern Chinese city can bet legally through the Hong Kong Jockey Club, which also runs the former British colony\’s popular horse racing scene.
About 35 billion Hong Kong dollars in legal bets were placed on football matches in 2009, according to Jockey Club figures. There were no reliable numbers for illegal wagers.