HONG KONG: Hong Kong police said Monday they have smashed a record 170 million Hong Kong dollar (22 million US dollar) gambling ring that took illegal bets on World Cup football games and horse racing.
Authorities arrested four men linked to Hong Kong`s notorious triad gangs and seized betting records in the latest in a series of raids that have netted at least three dozen suspects since the tournament kicked off this month.
"This is a record for a single raid," a police spokeswoman told AFP.
Betting records worth about 32 million US dollars have been seized in all.
Police said they have not finished breaking down the value of wagers placed on football versus horse racing in the latest raid.
In a joint operation earlier this month, mainland Chinese police arrested at least 45 people and confiscated 44 million Hong Kong dollars` worth of betting slips in the nearby southern industrial city of Shenzhen.
Punters in Hong Kong, a football and horse racing-mad former British colony, can bet legally on a variety of sports events including the World Cup through the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
About 35 billion Hong Kong dollars in legal bets were placed on football matches in 2009, according to Jockey Club figures.
Illegal bookmakers are said to offer better odds, and easier credit terms -- although failure to repay can bring horrific punishment, according to police.
BDST: 1131hrs, June 28, 2010