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More Korean Suspects Arrested in Gambling Ring

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor

                Korean law enforcement had another raid on a gambling ring in which the suspects were said to have allowed Korean internet users to wager using a real time webcast from an online casino in the Philippines. The raid resulted in the indictment of four suspects without bail on illegal gambling charges, while seven more are being pursued.

                According to South Korean media, over one hundred billion dollars were won in the gambling operation that encompassed live casino games including internet baccarat. The land casino in question was based in Manila and has been operational since February 2007. The ringleader of the accused had hired nearly 30 Filipino dealers after installing webcasting equipment that would allow customers to gamble online.

                The operation would exchange Korean money for virtual chips that customers would use to place wagers while watching live broadcasts. In order to collect on their earnings, users would then pay a commission to the casino whose total depended on the amount of the wager and on which side it was placed. One gamer’s bet equaled 120 million.

                In fact, it was found that it was not uncommon for customers to transfer 100 million to the casino in exchange for chips; half of the earnings going to the owner, 15 percent to online casino gambling websites and a remaining 35 percent to business partners.          

                Korean police officials have estimated upwards of 500 billion having been wagered in the gambling ring using nine separate internet gambling websites. In order to assure the casino’s customers that the live broadcasts were legitimate, CNN news broadcasts were shown on the same screen as the webcast.

                According to the Korean Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office, business partners had accumulated over 12.3 billion in assets, 4.35 billion in real estate, 3.45 billion in bank accounts and 850 million in luxury cars. Along with an additional 1.57 billion in cash, police have confiscated all assets from the suspects and ringleader.

                Two key members in the casino’s operation have fled overseas where they are currently being pursued using “extradition proceedings. In the meantime they have been indicted in absentia and moves are under way to confiscate their illegal earnings.” It has not been specified where the money, real estate and other assets will go. Three additional members are suspected to have escaped to Malaysia where they will also be pursued.

                One member of the gambling ring in custody must additionally answer to charges of operating an illegal internet casino gambling website, having furnished servers in Japan and Thailand, under the same conditions as those being used in the ring. A commission was also collected from its internet users, who allegedly wagered a total of 80 billion since its establishment. The website has since been closed and its 80 billion in revenue is unaccounted for.

                At this stage in the game, law enforcement is investigating the possibility that this operation may be tied to organized crime families, although an official statement has not yet been made.