Police declare war on gambling sites

By: Chung Hyun-chae

Police said Friday that they will strengthen their crackdown on illegal gambling websites and site operators.

Given that gangs are involved in running many large-scale gambling sites, police plan to apply the law against “organizing a criminal group” instead of the previously applied gambling one.

According to police, many gambling websites with tens of thousands of members are operated by crime rings.

So far, such website operators were indicted on charge of opening a gambling place. Under such a charge, the punishment was up to seven years in prison or a 70 million won fine.

“However, with the charge of criminal group organization, the operators will be subject to harsher punishments of up to life sentences,” an official of the National Police Agency said.

Programmers who create and manage gambling sites will also be punished as accomplices, and those who offer web hosting services while knowing the sites are for illegal gambling, as abettors.

Also, not only site operators but gamblers will face heavier punishments.

“Although we have prosecuted only habitual gamblers and gamblers betting a large amount of money in the past, we will charge all gamblers without exceptions, regardless of how often they gamble or how much money they bet,” a prosecution official said.

Those who are caught gambling three times or more will be investigated under arrest, he added. Teenagers can also get criminal penalties in cases of repeated gambling.

Police plan to launch a special investigation team to fight cyber gambling, and strengthen cooperation with police in other countries where servers are located.

There have been a number of online gambling scandals involving celebrities, including professional sports stars, in recent years.

Some professional basketball players, judokas and wrestlers were booked for match fixing and illegal gambling in September last year, while some professional baseball players have recently been under investigation for overseas gambling.

SOURCE: THE KOREA TIMES

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