Thousands of Thais arrested for World Cup gambling

A Thai soldier stands next to a billboard to promote the Brazil World Cup 2014 as passers-by walk past outside a shopping mall in Bangkok on June 23, 2014. Police in Thailand said on Tuesday, July 15, 2014, that they had arrested 5,064 people fo
A Thai soldier stands next to a billboard to promote the Brazil World Cup 2014 as passers-by walk past outside a shopping mall in Bangkok on June 23, 2014. Police in Thailand said on Tuesday, July 15, 2014, that they had arrested 5,064 people for illegal gambling during the World Cup, a sharp increase from four years ago. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK (AFP) - Police in Thailand said on Tuesday, July 15, 2014, that they had arrested 5,064 people for illegal gambling during the World Cup, a sharp increase from four years ago.

As well as 4,679 gamblers, the authorities have detained 258 bookmakers and 127 betting slip runners since the tournament kicked off in Brazil on June 12.

If convicted, those arrested could face up to two years in prison and a 2,000 baht (S$77.40) fine.

But most are expected to receive suspended jail terms, except in cases where particularly large sums of money are involved, said Police Major General Chantavit Ramsut.

In addition more than 2,000 football gambling websites have been shut down, police said.

Thailand's new junta is cracking down on gambling in general in a bid to "uphold social order" in the kingdom, where most forms of betting is outlawed.

According to police figures, around 3,800 people were arrested across Thailand for gambling during the previous World Cup in 2010.