As the World Cup gets into full swing in Russia, regulators in Asia are on high alert to stamp out illegal gambling on sites like this one. That's because, they say, shady betting online has exploded in the region. Recent estimates say Asia makes up 80% of illegal betting worldwide, a $500 billion industry.
Within the region, many gamblers are in Thailand and Malaysia where legal alternatives don't exist. Still even in places like South Korea or Hong Kong where operators are allowed to have bets on events like the World Cup, there's an illegal underground and it's usually far larger. This week police in Hong Kong they busted a cross-border betting ring with $9 million on their ledgers.
And Reuters' Farah Masters explains why.>> Regulatory agencies have said that the rise of cryptocurrency on these online platforms have made it much easier for gamblers to bet, and it makes it much harder for them to track down. Because it's just not as transparent, obviously, and it's much harder than trying to find an illegal betting parlor physical location.
>> Regulators say illegal betting this year's expected to vastly exceed volumes during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, thanks to convenient geography.>> As the World Cup this year's being held in Russia, the cities, they are much closer in timezone to the Asian region than it was in Brazil in 2014.
So bettors will be able to play during that day, which gambling industry experts say will help boost the numbers quite a lot.>> At the 2014 World Cup, Interpol ceased over $2 billion worth of bets across Asia, mainly executed through illegal websites.