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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Thailand predict illegal gambling rise

Thailand's leaders are expecting illegal gambling to soar in the country during the World Cup, but have measures in place to crack down on it.

The national police force said on Monday that 1,677 people involved in World Cup betting from June 9 to 21 had been arrested, while they had also shut down 675 illegal gambling websites.

"Thais are quite addicted to gambling and the World Cup is a period when gambling spikes," deputy police spokesman Anucha Romyanan told Reuters.

"People are still trying to access gambling websites so we're locating those websites and shutting them down."

Apart from horse racing and the national lottery, most forms of gambling are illegal in Thailand, although it remains a popular national pastime.

According to the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, Thais are expected to spend around 45 billion baht ($1.4 billion) on World Cup betting.

"This tournament only happens every four years, so Thais take advantage of the occasion," Thanawat Polvichai, director of the university's Centre for Economic and Business Forecasting, said.

"People's salaries are higher than four years ago and soccer betting has become easier due to higher internet penetration."

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