Police in Taichung arrested at least seven South Korean nationals in connection with illegal gambling on April 24. The group, who were in Taiwan as tourists, had been running a cross-border gambling website for over a year.
Authorities noted that they are still conducting an in-depth investigation into the organization to determine whether the cross-border payments were used for money laundering. Police were tipped off by neighbors who reported activity from the apartment throughout night, including buzzing sounds that irritated neighbors.
A 32-year-old Korean man is suspected of recruiting young Koreans to move to Taiwan to work in online gambling. He reportedly arrived in Taiwan in August 2017 and set up his online gambling operation the following February as he found that criminal liability for gambling was less strict than in South Korea. He was able to attract gamblers in Korea to bet on international sports, with an estimated website membership of almost 6,000.
With the aid of visa-free stays for Koreans, he found it easier to recruit more young men to assist the operation. They would leave Taiwan once a month and return after two or three days. The six men arrested along with the ringleader were all between 20 and 30 years old, and police believe that are affiliated with Korean gangs.
The group earned an estimated NT$110,000 per month, and betting totaled NT$670 million during the run of the operation. The average daily amount bet on the site reached NT$1.6 million.
Police traced the group to a fifth floor apartment in Taichung’s Xitun District, near Zhongke Park. Authorities confiscated mobile phones, computers, and Korean bank authentication documents.
Gambling in Taiwan is illegal, though construction of casinos on some islands was legalized in 2009. International online gaming sites are available in Taiwan, but are still technically illegal to use and authorities have difficulty in prosecuting such cases.