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Celebrities get suspended terms for illegal sports gambling

Celebrities get suspended terms for illegal sports gambling

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Published : 2013-12-27 10:46
Updated : 2013-12-27 10:46

Three celebrities, including TV personalities and a former K-pop singer, received suspended prison sentences Friday for betting on illegal sports gambling websites.

The Seoul Central District Court sentenced comedian Lee Soo-geun, singer Tak Jae-hoon and Tony An, a former member of the popular 1990s boy band HOT, to six months in prison, suspended for one year.

The three were found guilty of wagering hundreds of millions of won (hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars) on football teams in the English Premier League through private gambling websites, which are illegal venues.

In South Korea, the only legal form of sports betting is through buying Sports Toto lottery tickets operated by a state-licensed brokerage company. Sports Toto offers odds on wins, ties, losses and the combined scores between teams. A bettor can only wager 100,000 won per ticket up to six times a day.

"The defendants should be highly blamed for their crimes, considering their social status as well as the amount and the period of the gambling," Judge Shin Myung-hee said in her ruling.

"The court, however, took into consideration that the defendants showed sincere remorse for their crimes and that they promised not to repeat the crimes."

Following the verdicts, the disgraced celebrities said they will not appeal to a higher court.

"I offer my apology. I will have the time of self-reflection without filing for an appeal," Tony An told reporters.

In November, prosecutors indicted a total of 21 people, including the three, for placing bets on the illegal gambling website through their mobile phones.

The prosecution office summarily indicted three others -- Andy, a member of boy band Shinhwa; Lee Min-ho, better known by his stage name Boom; and comedian Yang Se-hyung -- as the amount of gambling money was relatively small.

Most of the celebrities admitted to the gambling allegations during the investigation, prosecutors said, adding that they have all lost the money through the gambling. (Yonhap News)

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