The police said Wednesday that it had rounded up a crime syndicate that operated an illicit gambling website that facilitated a total of 400 billion won ($390 million) in bets.
“Twenty-nine members from five gangs in Gyeonggi Province were involved as store managers and recruiters,” the police said in a statement. “They operated the game, called “Badugi,” from March 2012 to May 2014.”
A Suwon district court issued a warrant for custody of three gang members, including a leader surnamed Yang. In addition, the police booked 40 suspects, including 26 other gang members and some salaried workers who gambled excessively, without detention.
Investigators alleged that the de facto owner of the illicit site is a former gangster who resides in China.
The suspect was found to have operated a main server for the gambling site in China in coordination with locals. They charged an entry fee and exchanged currencies using bank accounts under borrowed names.
The ex-gangster in China raked in 40 billion won in service charges, which made up 10 percent of the collectively wagered 400 billion won, investigators said.
“Badugi” has been exploited as an income source for major gangs nationwide.
In October 2013, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said that they arrested six gangsters, including a leader surnamed Yeom who headed operations of Bucheon’s Lotto gang. The group was arrested for operating a pyramid scheme and charging large fees while operating an illegal gambling site, in violation of the Game Industry Promotion Act.
Police also booked 122 people, including a leader and member of the Seoknam gang in Incheon surnamed Kim. Kim was in charge of managing stores and recruiting users. Among them, 50 took part in gang activities.
Those operating the illegal sites manipulated the program so that people could place a bet without having to verify their real names.
A policeman said gang members have shifted from illegal gambling arcades in provincial areas to online gambling or sports betting sites in recent years.
By Kim Yon-se (firstname.lastname@example.org)