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Thai Police Raids in a Clampdown on Illegal Gambling

April 4, 2023 Thailand Crime & Legal

Police in Thailand have raided 17 locations suspected with being linked to online gaming networks. This included the exclusive building that is home to a well-known Thai actress and her husband. The Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau gave authorisation to police commandos to launch a raid in Bangkok and its suburbs last week in order to gather evidence of active gambling networks.

Bang Kapi district
The police also targeted the upmarket Bank Kapi district in Bangkok where celebrity actress Yardthip Rajpal lives with her husband, entrepreneur and businessman Mek Rama. Rama is also known as one of Phuket’s hoteliers. A large team of police officers searched the house in the presence of Mek. As he looked on, police discovered a secret room with a large safe containing private and confidential belongings and valuable items. Assets of more than 1 billion baht were seized from the couple’s residence. The police also confiscated a Ferrari, a BMW and three large vans. The police said that Mr Mek was cautioned for colluding in online gambling activity. He is also facing charges of committing offences under the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

A whistleblower has also been assisting with the inquiry.

It is believed that former massage parlour mogul Chuvit Kamolvisit was party to exposing a number of active online gaming platforms and gambling activity. It was indicated in the Thai press that Kamolvisit may have been involved in exposing Mek and Rajpal’s involvement in online gambling operations in Thailand. In a post on his facebook page, Chuvit referred to an individual with the initial M. He wrote that the alleged gaming operator lived a life of luxury in a home valued at 200 million baht. He added that the gentleman also drove a red Ferrari. Chuvit accused Mek for being involved in a large football related gambling network.

The raids on 17 locations in Bangkok, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Sa Kaeo and Phitsanulok resulted in nine arrests. Raids were carried out simultaneously and without prior warning as part of “Operation Shadow App”. The raids led to 34 arrests in seven of the 17 raided locations. Police officers confiscated around 2 million baht in cash together with a number of cars and mobile phones. 45 bank accounts are now also under police investigation.

Authorities in Thailand are attempting to clamp down on online and land-based gambling activity.

Fight against illegal gambling
This is not the first time that police have raided residences without any warning in an effort to fight gambling which is illegal in Thailand. During Covid-19 several online gambling operations were shut down and proprietors were arrested, fined and charged.

The only forms of gambling allowed in Thailand at the moment are horse race betting and the state lottery. The government is however considered to implement a regulated gambling market and the issue is being discussed with a view to introducing a highly regulated sector.

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