Wei Seng “Paul” Phua, Malaysian online sports betting and poker Moghul may have heaved a sigh of relief after being let off easy by the US for his illegal betting racket. But his troubles are far from over. Macau is in no mood to allow him to escape unscathed.
Macau authorities pulled the plug on the “largest illegal sports betting operation” the region had ever witnessed in June 2014. The operation was enabling wagers to be placed on the FIFA World Cup taking place that summer. The entire show was being run from hotel rooms at the Wynn Macau casino.
22 individuals were apprehended in the case. Phua was one among them. However, he was permitted to leave on bail and take a flight to Las Vegas. Vegas too was no luckier for Phua as he was arrested the very next month for operating a separate online sports betting operation from high-roller digs at Caesars Palace.
He fought the Vegas case for a year and ultimately emerged practically free of all charges. The prosecutorial ineptitude was a big reason behind this. Phua can only hope that the Macau trial, i.e. being held at Court of First Instance will yield similar results. The trial flagged off on Tuesday. However, according to Macau Business, none of the 15 defendants to the case, including Phua turned up at the hearing. Instead, two Judiciary Police officers presented their testimony where they said that they put the Wynn Macau rooms under surveillance after they were tipped off about the illegal gambling operation underway inside.
Lack of evidence hampers the trial
The police retrieved phones, computers, betting paper and a modest amount of cash when they broke in. They confiscated all of the above. All of the accused denied that they had anything to do with the materials seized and also the fact that they’re involved in any betting racket. They claimed that they had only been placing their individual bets on the FIFA action.
When defense lawyers demanded to know why there was little evidence of the video surveillance that could have been put forward by the prosecution, the police officers had no convincing response. They simply said that there had been a major reshuffling of the officers investigating the case over the last five years, from the time of the raid.
If Phua gets convicted, he’d be handed a three-year jail sentence. However, this seems unlikely as the Macau government’s case doesn’t appear any stronger than the one the US had against him.
Source – Igaming world