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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Syndicate offers 'live' betting through the Internet

KUALA LUMPUR: June 30, 2009. Illegal mini casinos – using computers – have mushroomed all over the Klang Valley recently following the introduction of new software by a local syndicate linked to syndicates in Hong Kong and the Philippines.

Using webcam technology, the syndicate broadcasts croupiers live in action to its customers here who lay bets via specially programmed computers.

According to sources, there are at least 100 outlets which are operating as outright casinos and an unknown number which use the cover of a cybercafe to carry out their illegal gaming business.

These outlets offer all types of live gambling games like baccarat, roulette, poker and blackjack via live videoconferencing with the croupier based in Manila.

To prove to the gamblers that the game they are playing is “live”, each outlet has a TV screen showing CNN and there would be a TV behind the croupier showing the same programme.

To further reinforce that the game is real and live, customers can “chat” with the croupier via chat mode provided by the computer software. All the croupiers are attractive, young women who chat charmingly in English.

The staff at the outlets here convert the punters’ cash into cyberchips and the amount appears on the gamblers’ computers to show how much they have to play with.

The croupiers are shown on a small screen within the computer screen. The other part of the screen consists of electronically drawn graphics of the bets, cards drawn or the layout of a roulette table. The screen also shows the winnings, losses and the gambler’s credit balance.

The computer also allows the player to play multiple games, including one-armed bandit machines.

Sources said the syndicate operates the casino business as a franchisee and by itself only owns a few of the outlets.

Those who want to operate the mini-casinos are asked to come up with certain amount of money while the syndicate would advise them on the outlet design as well as provide the electronic fittings to wire up the computers to a server.

In most cases, the syndicate also supplies the computers and the server.

It is believed that the syndicate’s main server is located in Hong Kong while the croupiers and casino studios are located in Manila.

It remains unknown how the syndicate is able to provide such clear video conferencing as it would require a big bandwidth.

Sources said the syndicate was working with illegal gaming syndicates in the Philippines who recruit croupiers from legal electronic casinos based there.

E-casinos are a major success in the Philippines and operated by a government-owned company called Philweb Corporation which made a profit of almost US$20mil in the first quarter of this year.

The company employs more than 11,000 people – the majority of whom are croupiers – at their e-casinos. The Philippine Government set up Philweb as a means to raise money for social projects as well as to combat illegal gambling.

It is not known whether the croupiers are former employees of this company but under Philippine law, the company can only operate within the country.

Malaysia is not the first country where local syndicates use Filipina croupiers for their illegal activities. Last October, South Korean police busted a similar illegal electronic casino operation in Seoul.

A massive gambling syndicate run by four men – all South Koreans – was reported to have made US$100mil in just 18 months.

The syndicate employed 30 Filipina dealers and also broadcast their games via webcam to outlets in Seoul. It was reported that their operations also had TV sets showing CNN to prove that the game was being played in real time.

Just like in Malaysia, only one legal casino is open to South Koreans.

It is not known if the Malaysian syndicate, which is said to have been in operation for about six months, has any connection with the one in Seoul or if it had learnt or taken over from the latter. The Star

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