BANGKOK, July 12 (Xinhua) -- More than 14,000 people have been arrested so far, mostly in Bangkok and outlying areas, on charges of gambling on World Cup soccer games, said a police general on Thursday.
Deputy Police Commissioner General Pol. Gen. Chalermkiat Srivorakhan disclosed that an estimated 14,300 suspected gamblers have been rounded up throughout Thailand since the world soccer tournament kicked off in Russia last month.
Most have been arrested in the Thai capital and neighboring provinces, Pol. Gen. Chalermkiat said.
Of that total, 534 were suspected as gambling operators and touts, the deputy police chief said.
That total number of gambling suspects during the current World Cup soccer games compared to only about 5,000 people arrested on similar charges during a previous tournament four years ago, according to Pol. Gen. Chalermkiat.
The deputy police chief commented that the increase in the number of suspected gamblers during the current tournament by nearly three times as many as the previous one was primarily attributed to the fact that they had easy access to gambling activity via cellphones and websites.
An estimated 45 million baht (about 1.4 million U.S. dollars) in cash and bank accounts have been seized from those suspected gamblers and a total of 211 websites have been shut down for allegedly opening the illegal betting on the world soccer games, Pol. Gen. Chalermkiat said.
Police are closely monitoring reports pertaining to the illegal business of lending an estimated 1 million baht (about 31,800 U.S. dollars) in cash from loan sharks to suspected gamblers in a dozen provinces, he said.
According to the deputy police chief, each of the suspected gamblers, who currently remain at large, might probably spend the largest possible sum of money to bet on the World Cup final match between France and Croatia scheduled for the upcoming Sunday.