Las Vegas is America’s gambling mecca and one of the few places where casinos and sportsbooks can legally accept wagers on sporting events. Where many people see a saturated market, however, Malaysian businessman Paul Phua Wei-seng saw an opportunity.
Several news sources have reported that the 50-year old man, his 22-year old son and several others set up an illegal betting ring in three hotel rooms at the Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. On July 15th Phua and the others were caught and arrested, with the Malaysian’s bail set at a whopping $2 million.
What were they taking bets on? The World Cup 2014 in Brazil. And the series of arrests came just weeks after the authorities in Hong Kong broke up a multi-million World Cup betting ring based there. That ring was run by, guess who? None other than Paul Phua Wei-seng.
Associated Press: Malaysian Businessman Wei Seng Phua Released on $2 million Bond After Illegal Betting Arrest
Malaysian businessman and high-roller poker player Wei Seng Phua was released from jail in the US on July 28th after some fellow poker players posted his $2 million bond as well as the $500,000 set for his son. This is the latest gambling news in a month-long saga concerning the underworld figure.
Poker professionals Andrew Robl and 10-time World Series of Poker Champion Phil Ivey reportedly put together the $2.5 million to bail out the Phuas, which had been arrested (along with eight others) for running an illegal sportsbetting operation out of their Las Vegas hotel room.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials agreed to release him after bail was posted and they reviewed the case, finding that requirements had been met for release.
Daily Telegraph: 8 People Arrested by Federal Officials for Running Illegal Gambling Operation in Vega Hotel
Eight people from Malaysia, China and Hong Kong have been accused of running an illegal betting operation out of three Las Vegas hotel rooms. The group reportedly took millions of dollars in bets on World Cup matches.
The FBI and Nevada Gaming Control Board agents made arrests on July 13th after raiding three suites at the Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.
US attorney general Daniel Bogden told reporters that the Phua had opened up shop in Vegas after being arrested on June 18th for running an illegal gambling operation in Hong Kong. After posting bond there he flew to the US.
Casino employees alerted the authorities after growing suspicious about being asked to set up computer equipment in the three hotel rooms. If convicted, Phua and the others could each face up to two years in prison and fines of up to $250,000.
South China Morning Post: Malaysian Businessman Arrested in the US is an Alleged Member of Hong Kong Triads
Online gambling entrepreneur and reported member of the 14k Triads Paul Phua Wei-seng was arrested in Las Vegas on July 13th for running a World Cup betting ring out of a Las Vegas hotel room in violation of American gambling laws. The 50-year old Malaysian was one of eight people arrested, including three from Hong Kong.
Legal documents released by the FBI claimed that Phua is a high ranking member of the 14k Triads, one of Hong Kong’s oldest and most powerful criminal organizations.
He is also one of the key executives of IBCBet, which is arguably the world’s largest sportsbetting operator. A study by the International Centre for Sport Security in Qatar estimated that roughly 80 percent of wagers made on the 2014 World Cup in Brazil were done so illegally.
CBS Las Vegas: Phua Still Not Released from Jail Despite $2 million of Phil Ivey’s Money
Lawyers representing Malaysian businessman Phua Wei-seng demanded that he be released after his $2 million bail was posted by a group of professional poker players, including 100-time World Series of Poker Champion Phil Ivey.
As of July 28th Phua still sat in jail despite his bail being met; authorities had not yet released him due their ongoing review of the case details. Phua lawyer David Chesnoff told the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Our clients have complied with every condition set by a federal judge for their release…We have repeatedly attempted to contact ICE authorities, who have not responded. We are going to take further legal steps.
Phua and his 22-year old son are among eight people arrested and held for allegedly running a million-dollar illegal betting ring out of Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, taking wagers on the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
South China Morning Post: Arrested Illegal Betting Operator Phua Once Served as Ambassador to Montenegro
Macau gambling kingpin, big-money casino winner and alleged Hong Kong triad leader Paul Phua Wei-seng served as San Marino’s ambassador to Montenegro for three years before being arrested in Las Vegas on July 13th for allegedly running an illegal World Cup betting ring.
The businessman and high-stakes poker player was appointed the diplomatic representative of the tiny European microstate in 2011, obtaining a diplomatic passport which allowed him to move freely throughout most countries around the globe.
Upon his appointment San Marinese foreign minister Antonella Mularoni expressed the idea that Phua could use his connections in the entertainment industry to bring a luxury hotel development project to San Marino.
He is also reported to be a major shareholder in IBCBET, a world-leading online betting operator based in the Philippines. After his arrest authorities in San Marino revoked his status and asked him to return his diplomatic passport.
USA Today Sports: Vegas says LeBron’s return makes Cavaliers NBA title favorites
Since announcing his return to the Cavaliers, speculators and basketball experts have been throwing around the high possibility of them winning the championship in the following season.
Gambling news reports that a single hour after LeBron made his intentions public, the Ohio based team were ranked as 4/1 favorites for the NBA title. They were ahead of teams like San Antonio Spurs (5/1) and Oklahoma City Thunder (6/1).
Looking back some time before King James returned home, at the beginning of the offseason the Cavs were on the opposite end of the spectrum in term of title success. Bookmakers gave them odds of 60/1 of achieving glory in the 2014-2015 season. However, as speculation about the star player’s return grew over time so did their chances.
Their first improved odds stood at 50/1, and then jumped to 30/1, before eventually leapfrogging to 10/1 earlier in the week. Cavaliers’ odds were fourth best in the league, only behind Oklahoma City, San Antonio and Miami Heat.
Although the possibility of LeBron leaving Miami increased the Cavs’ odds, in the initial stages the South Florida team didn’t experience any changes in terms of their chances of success in the next season. They were hailed as favorite for the next season, although after the news confirmed about LeBron departure, their odds went down substantially.
Heat’s NBA title hopes for the next season stand at around 50/1, which caused many people to liken the sudden turn in championship odds to a Las Vegas stock crash. The Miami team currently has worse odds than New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors. Heat stands on par with Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans.
Cleveland.com: With LeBron James returning, Cleveland Cavaliers have the best odds of winning NBA title, according to Las Vegas oddsmakers
The Cavaliers went from outsiders to serious contenders for the NBA title in a matter of weeks. Las Vegas bookies believe that the Cavs can make a serious impact in the competition this year, as their star player has returned to his roots giving them a massive boost.
Although San Antonio Spurs have managed to win the NBA this year, their chances of achieving consecutive titles have been trumped with the LeBron returning to the Cavs. The Texas-based team have been assigned odds of 5/1, making them second favorites behind the team that now boasts the league most dominating player.
Betting providers were predicting that there would a significant shift in the future betting preferences on the Cavs, as they were 80/1 outsiders a little over a week ago. Now, they command the greatest odds for the following season. Oklahoma City Thunder (6/1) and Chicago Bulls (7/1) are the other favorites to lift the NBA trophy next year.
Latest gambling news indicated that odds started changing two weeks ago, as more and more news started to circulate about LeBron’s possible move back to the team where he started his illustrious career. MGM Resorts gave the Cavaliers 20/1 odds on Monday morning, but quickly altered their chances all the way down to 8/1 by Wednesday.
nj.com: 2014 NBA Championshi[ Odds: LeBron James makes Cleveland the favorites
The Cleveland Cavaliers went from being one of the least promising teams to number one favorites virtually overnight, according to Las Vegas oddsmakers. The team hailing from Ohio will be severely tested once the season commences, as the public will then be able to judge if King James can carry the team on his own.
Despite having one of the most talented players of all time in their ranks, the Cavs are nevertheless outsiders for the title next season, as LeBron believes there is much to improve with the squad. He assured the fans that he will try his best, but currently does not have high hopes for title success.
“I’m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. We’re not ready right now. No way. Of course, I want to win next year, but I’m realistic. It will be a long process, much longer than it was in 2010. My patience will get tested. I know that.”
He also added that he is looking forward in helping mound the team that could possibly have the capability to win the trophy that has long eluded them. “I’m going into a situation with a young team and a new coach. I will be the old head. But I get a thrill out of bringing a group together and helping them reach a place they didn’t know they could go.”
International Business Times: NBA Betting Odds: Cleveland Cavs Favored To Win 2014-2015 Championship With LeBron
The 2014-2015 season is looking to be an exciting one for the NBA, and especially for Cavaliers fans. With LeBron back to his old town, he will be tasked with shouldering the responsibility and leading a team to NBA glory. Luckily, Las Vegas sportsbooks have expressed support for their ambitions as they favor the Cavs to win the championship.
Although the Cleveland team ranked poorly in terms of their chances of success, many bookmakers immediately changed their odds once LeBron announced his intention to return. Betting providers believe James has the ability to transform a team that managed to record merely 33 wins throughout the whole 2013-2014 season.
When LeBron decided to switch teams in 2010 in search of major titles, the Cavaliers endured a horrible spell without him during the past four years. According to sports scores news, in the first season without their star man Cavs could barely manage to win 19 games. The next three years after that, they achieved only 78 win and not a single playoff appearance.
However, now the future seems far brighter for them than before. Although LeBron’s presence alone can inspire the team to success, the Cavs have assembled a solid team that can challenge for the NBA title.
The Ohio-based team have drafted a talented point guard Kyrie Irving on a five-year deal, following his success last season with 20.8 points and 6.1 assists. Additionally, they also had the first overall pick drafting Andrew Wiggins in June, while also adding Anthony Bennett in the 2013 draft.
Without LeBron, Miami’s chances of reaching the finals in the next season are limited. Las Vegas Bookies have given Miami odds of 50/1, considering that Chris Bosh is also likely to leave imminently for Houston Rockets on a max contract.
The Washington Post: 2014 World Cup: Germany overwhelms shorthanded Brazil in semifinal, 7-1
World Cup semi-final stage is where the remaining best teams meet. Two of them qualify for the final, while the losers face one another in a fight for the third place. For the past three World Cups, the German side has managed to secure two bronze medals and one silver medal. They are truly a team to be reckoned with, as they always have a plethora of gifted players.
Many believed that the host nation had reasonable chances of proceeding to the final, however no one was prepared for what Germany were about to do to the five-time world champions. The semi-final against Brazil shocked millions across the globe, as they witnessed something unbelievable. Germany demolished the South Americans a staggering 7-1.
An entire nation was on its knees, crying and waiting for it for be over before the Europeans had another shot on goal. However, there are certain reasons as to why they succumbed to such a horrible defeat. Brazil had to cope with playing without star striker Neymar, while one of the world’s best defenders, Thiago Silva, was suspended for the match.
Gambling news reports that Brazilian captain David Luiz tried to put on a brave face, but was barely able to hold back tears for experiencing what many would consider football humiliation. Brazil was under severe pressure to win the esteemed trophy, which might have back-fired during the match and eventually saw them put on a disastrous performance.
abcNEWS: 2014 FIFA World Cup: Germany Defeats Brazil 7-1, Reaches Final
Germany scored the opening goals of the match in the 11th minute with Thomas Muller being the finisher. After that in a span of a mere 6 minutes four more goals went in the back of the Brazilian net with rapid succession, as if the hosts had no goalkeeper. Miroslav Klose scored in the 23rd, while Kroos added two more in the 24th and 26th minute followed by Khedira’s strike in the 29th. After that barrage, all hopes of Brazil reaching the final were shattered.
Germany striker Klose set a new World Cup record. At 36 years old he still has a clinical finish, as he managed to score the second goal of the game. This put him on the pedestal for scoring the most goals in World Cup competitions.
As if sinking Brazil with 7 at the back of the net wasn’t enough, the German forward dethroned the great Ronaldo who had 15 goals in the competition. Klose is now the player to beat as he commands 16 goals to his name.
YahooNEWS: World Cup 2014: Biggest shocks in history after Germany beats Brazil 7-1
The 7-1 result also marks Brazil’s greatest loss in history. Before that, the only other memorable severe loss came at the hands of Uruguay in the 1920 Copa America, when they were beaten 6-0.
Undoubtedly, the match will go down in history alongside other games that sent shockwaves throughout the world. When Brazil hosted the World Cup for the first time in 1950, they were also deemed tournament favorites, but had to settle for e second place finish as mighty Uruguay defeated them 2-1 on home soil.
The match is commonly referred to as “Maracanazo” which translates into the “The Blow of Maracana,” the stadium that they played at in the final. The game still remains as a painful memory for many Brazilians today. A sports score that they have never gotten over.
Perhaps the game between Netherlands and Spain can be matched as the other most shocking result at this year’s competition. The Dutch took their revenge on the Spaniards, as they previously lost a final against them in the last World Cup in 2010. Spain were punished with a massive 5 goals, while the defending champions managed only one goal in the opening game.
A similar thing happened with Argentina in the 1990 World Cup in Italy, when they were stunned with a 1-0 loss to Cameroon in their first game. Before that, in 1986 Argentina were crowned champions and no one anticipated Cameroon to pull off a surprise.
France experienced the same situation when they were held by Senegal to a 1-0 defeat in 2002. Four years prior they celebrated lifting their first World Cup trophy in their homeland, however they couldn’t replicate the same performance as before.
Independent.ie: One Paddy Power punter correctly predicted 7-1 obliteration in Brazil-Germany semi
It seems as if nobody could have foreseen such a catastrophe occur for Brazil. Experienced punters would have placed safer bets on game like this, however there was one man that didn’t practice the conventional betting system.
Online gambling news state that a punter in the UK made an astonishing bet by wagering on predicting the correct score of the match. The odds were heavily stacked against his prediction with Paddy Power offering 500/1 for that particular bet. As is turned out he was, scooping a massive reward that resulted in a profit of GBP 3,500 for that wager.
Paddy Power also states that some other lucky bettors predicted Brazil would lose 5-0 by half-time, which secured them a handsome 4-figure sum. The bookmaker’s spokesperson said, “It was nice that the rest of the Brazil team decided to miss the match in tribute to Neymar and Silva – but in reflection they’ll probably realize it kind of backfired.”
sportskeeda: FIFA World Cup: Fans betting correctly on Germany’s 7-1 win over Brazil make a fortune
There were also more astonishing bets made on the game that will forever be remembered as the demise of Brazil. One betting player managed to win a fortune with his audacious bet. He scored over $46,000 on a mere wager of $20, which is an astonishing return on investment.
Additionally, a Brazilian native didn’t seem to support her country for the win, but trusted her husband’s instinct when she placed a meagre 10 Brazilian Reals on predicting the score. She only managed to win 200 Reals but the story behind the bet is astonishing. Her husband reportedly told her the result of the match while sleepwalking through their house.
This year’s World Cup has been a bonanza for some lucky players. A Spanish bettor won $135,000 worth of gas for placing a bet against his native country when they faced Holland in the first match of their group.
Had Brazil lost out on penalties or by a very small goal margin, then the story would have been different. Nevertheless, hearts would have still been broken but the overall sentiment would have played out differently. Losing by a massive 6 goal difference on their own land is something no team ever wants to go through. Regaining confidence after that is difficult.
Over the past few years, economists and analysts have warned about the “casino saturation” in the north-eastern part of the US. Now authorities and business owners are witnessing the disaster and there’s nothing they can do about it.
With growing competition from other states in the area, New Jersey’s Atlantic City is in a desperate financial situation. There is no way out this time. The only thing left to do is to accept the defeat and close the resort’s unprofitable casinos, one by one. Otherwise, authorities are considering rebranding the city and turning it into a destination that offers visitors more than just casino games.
Let’s take a closer look at what recent gambling news have to say on the subject.
Philly.com: With casinos closing, Atlantic City considers future
About 2,100 employees received 60-day notices the next day, after Caesars Entertainment announced it was closing its Mardi Gras-themed casino, Showboat, by the end of this summer. The bad news comes only a few months after the Atlantic Club also went out of business and Revel is also likely to shutter if its owner doesn’t find a new buyer.
“Atlantic City is undergoing a massive economic transition,” Mayor Don Guardian said at a news conference Friday held at the site where a new nongaming attraction is being built. “We know it is painful for those who are losing their casino jobs.”
Liza Cartmell, chief executive officer of the nonprofit Atlantic City Alliance, told reporters: “Recent developments in Atlantic City are part of the larger picture of excess gaming across the United States that’s leading to painful economic decisions.”
There are simply too many casinos in the country, industry experts say. Over the past ten years, 26 gambling venues opened in the Northeast corridor alone; a dozen of them are located in Pennsylvania and a new one is scheduled to open in Baltimore later in August. The development of the casino industry in the area has put an end to the monopoly enjoyed by Atlantic City for nearly three decades.
ABC News: Atlantic City Casino Shutdown Needed, Analysts Say
The number of casinos in Atlantic City could go down from 12 to 9 by Labor Day, as analysts say the resort has too many gambling venues.
“We know that the oversupply of gaming product is a regional issue, as we’re seeing the effects of the pressure all around Atlantic City,” says Israel Posner, executive director of the Lloyd D. Levenson Institute of Gaming, Hospitality and Tourism at Stockton College.
Atlantic City is going through a rough patch and Mayor Don Guardian believes a makeover will be difficult, but necessary. Officials say the time has come for the city transform itself and become a multi-faceted destination, where casino games are just one of the many entertainment options available.
“Although it is sad today, it’s part of the transition that Atlantic City needs to have,” the mayor told reporters. “There is pain as we go through this transition, but it’s critical for Atlantic City to realize we are no longer the monopoly of gaming on the East Coast. If you build more and more casinos and don’t increase the amount of people coming to them, you’re sharing that wealth. We’re just going through a very difficult time.”
Boston Globe: Atlantic City sees our folly of casinos
The US Supreme Court struck down New Jersey’s attempt to legalize sports betting and Atlantic City casinos are going out of business, despite Governor Chris Christie pumping $260 million of his constituents’ money into one of the local casinos.
While Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods are considered interlopers who steal customers from the New Jersey resort, the story published in the Boston Globe says all players are “suckers, willing to part with their money for the house, because the house always wins.”
Locals worry about Massachusetts casinos stealing even more business. The market is already oversaturated, they say, and Atlantic City is already competing with Vegas, Connecticut and Philadelphia.
The Guardian: Atlantic City shutters casinos as north-east US builds gambling market
It’s becoming more and more obvious that there are too many casinos in Atlantic City. Competition has caused the Atlantic Club to close its doors, Revel says it will do the same unless owners find a new buyer and Caesars Entertainment is giving up on the Showboat.
During his five years in office, Mayor Don Guardian saw a quarter of the city’s casinos close. He believes this is a sign that Atlantic City needs a makeover, from a popular gambling resort to a multi-faceted destination instead.
Over the past seven years, casino revenue in the city has plunged from $5.2 billion to almost half that amount, reaching just $2.86 billion in 2013. Meanwhile, Pennsylvania surpassed Atlantic City as the country’s second largest casino market after Nevada. And with New Jersey’s new laws allowing locals to play casino games and online poker tournaments, profits soared even more.
All this sounds like bad news, but Fitch Ratings has a different opinion, claiming that “the closure makes financial sense for Caesars and is a positive for the oversupplied Atlantic City market.” According to the expert, Caesars will regain lost customers at its other resorts in the area.
CityLab: Atlantic City Is Becoming the Detroit of Casino Culture
At the beginning of the year, when the media argued that Atlantic City could be going the way of Detroit – which suffered a big shock after being forced to shut down gambling venues – State Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Chris Christie both promised they would not let the city “become Detroit”. Now, the resort is facing a wave of casino closings.
Former casino workers are furious over losing their jobs and Bob McDevitt, president of Local 54 of the Unite-HERE union, told reporters that Caesars’ decision to shut down the Showboat was “a criminal act”, as the venue was still making profit.
To help former employees find new positions within the company, Caesars promised to give them preference for existing roles at the company’s other three Atlantic City venues.
Expensive losses in court may cost state of Victoria $540m as they compensate poker machine operator for contract collapse.
A broken contract can lead to expensive litigation as the Australian state of Victoria is finding out. Tatts and Tabcorp once enjoyed a duopoly over poker machines beyond Melbourne’s Crown casino but following a government decision in 2009 altering gambling laws in Australia operation was given over to venues.
The legal action began by both companies in 2012 saw Tatts seeking at least $490m and Tabcorp asking for $686.8m. A ruling handed down by Victorian supreme Justice Kim Hargrave proved bad news for the state.
Whilst the government was ordered to pay $450m (plus interest) to Tatts, Tabcorp lost its attempt to gain compensation. The state instantly announced it would appeal the Tatts decision, which is now being used as a political football ahead of state elections five months hence.
“We will be appealing the decision with respect to this $540m, but the Labor party ought to apologize to the people of Victoria for their mismanagement of this process,” said state premier Denis Napthine
The Guardian: Denis Napthine says Victoria will appeal $540m payout to pokies giant
In what can only be described as a kind of legal side bet the three entities, state and two operators, are also at each other’s throats over 80 million dollar’s worth of health tax. This stems from the fact that despite having their duopoly removed the two companies were charged a health levy for the full year.
This, they claim, is unfair since they did not operate the machines for the full fiscal year concerned and thus are entitled to a refund for the portion of the year remaining. The Victorian supreme court ruled in their favor but in an interesting twist the Court of Appeal threw out that decision.
The Appeals court said the levy was a flat tax on gaming machines that was entirely within reason for the government to charge and that the revenue earnings of the machines, and the date on which those revenues were injected are neither here nor there in regards of a tax calculation.
Yahoo News: Vic Government wins appeal on repayment of health levy to pokies companies
The $42.6 million Tatts was charged, and the $42 million Tabcorp was levied has been spent on good causes around the state from schools to hospitals despite the Victorian state Treasurer having ruled its imposition was “unfair and unreasonable”.
Mr Michael O’Brien’s decision was overturned by Supreme Court judges Maxwell, Beach and McMillan who said the Treasurer’s decision was incorrect due to the wording of the law which means the “statutory language permits no other interpretation”.
“The Treasurer was bound to determine the tax payable in accordance with the prescribed formula,” they said. “Any unfairness which might be thought to have resulted was the inescapable consequence of the provision as enacted.”
Or to put it another way, the fact the operators only got 46 days where their machines were in use, they were charged for the whole year because the law doesn’t allow for anything else. If they were merely charged for 46 days it would still cost them $7m.
The Sydney Morning Herald: Tatts, Tabcorp could face $85 million in pokies levies after government appeal allowed
Of course appealing is going to keep this case running in the gambling news for a while longer yet. The two operators are likely to appeal the health tax levy, the state is going to appeal the decision against them (that’s costing the nearly half a billion) and that’s without the Auditor General’s two cents.
The Auditor General has found that the Brumby government that was responsible for the licensing of the poker machines in the first place made what can only be described as a complete pig’s ear of the entire thing costing the state almost $3bn,
The Brumby government breaking an agreement made by the Kennett government to pay compensation to the two operators should their licenses not be renewed in 2012 is now seen as political ammunition with the opposition spokesman laying the blame squarely on the liberal’s doorstep.
“It appears the contracts signed by the Kennett government with Tattersalls has provided a windfall gain.” He said, adding, “If the government is confident of its case, then it should strongly consider appealing.”
Herald Sun: Tatts to get up to $450m from Victoria’s coffers