Ex-RSAF regular made $876,000 in illegal sports bets, helped other regulars to bet

·Assistant News Editor
·4-min read
PHOTO: Getty Images
PHOTO: Getty Images

SINGAPORE — A former Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) regular who placed illegal bets amounting to $876,096 on basketball and football games and aided his colleagues in making similar bets was jailed 11 months and fined $5,000 on Tuesday (23 November). 

Koh Jia Liang, 30, who was a First Sergeant with the RSAF at the time of the offences in 2017, assisted his co-accused in setting up betting accounts, managing them and setting the betting limits. 

He had earlier pleaded guilty to three charges of illegal gambling and facilitating participation in remote gambling under the Remote Gambling Act. Two other charges were taken into consideration for his sentencing. 

Koh's co-accused, a 25-year-old man, is still being dealt with by the courts. 

Facts of the case

According to court documents, Koh developed an avid interest in football betting in early 2017 and would also place 4D and TOTO bets weekly. 

Sometime in early 2017, the co-accused, a close friend of Koh who was also stationed at Lim Chu Kang Camp 2, told him that he was working as an illegal bookie and asked if he was interested in placing illegal 4D and TOTO bets with him. 

Koh agreed and soon began asking the co-accused to place such bets on his behalf.

Sometime in the middle of 2017, the co-accused asked Koh if he was interested in placing illegal bets on football games through him. Koh, who was addicted to football betting at that point, agreed. 

The co-accused therefore created a player account on an unknown illegal remote gambling website for Koh, which the latter used to place bets on football games until January 2018.

In early 2018, the co-accused created a player account for Koh on another illegal remote gambling website, through which the latter placed 4D and TOTO bets with a weekly credit limit of $7,000. Koh also helped two other individuals to place bets through this account, taking 5 per cent of their winnings. 

Helped to place bets for others

In January 2018, the co-accused asked Koh to introduce friends who were interested in football betting to him and offered Koh the chance to run an agent account. He assured Koh that he would profit from the collaboration because the punters’ odds of losing were higher than their odds of winning in the long run, and the greater these punters’ losses, the greater the accused’s profits.

Koh agreed as he was tempted by “easy money”. An arrangement was worked out where Koh would receive 80 per cent of the bets placed and lost by the punters he introduced. The remaining 20 per cent would go to the co-accused. 

Correspondingly, Koh would have to pay 80 per cent and the co-accused 20 per cent of the winnings if the punters placed successful bets. The co-accused was as such the principal and Koh his agent - Koh also considered himself to be working for the co-accused, whom he viewed as his boss.

The sites utilised by the duo were remote gambling services that were not provided by an exempt operator or a person otherwise exempt, under the Remote Gambling Act.

Player accounts were created for three individuals, all RSAF regulars and Koh's colleagues, who placed illegal bets on football and basketball games across various sports leagues. In early 2018, Koh also approached another colleague and offered to create a betting account for him.

Between 2 July and 15 November 2018, Koh helped one individual to place bets amounting to a total of $101,321 on football and basketball games.  

Between 28 July and 5 November of that year, Koh helped another individual to place bets amounting to a total of $21,274 on football games.  

The names of these individuals were redacted in court documents.

Placing his own bets

Sometime on or about 16 January 2018, Koh created a player account for himself, so that he could place bets on football and basketball games. Between 6 July and 11 November of that year, he placed bets amounting to a total of $876,096 on football and basketball games.  

Koh was arrested on 15 November 2018. The co-accused had previously told him that he should reply “I do not know” if he was ever questioned by the police because they would not be able to do anything if he were to deny everything. Nevertheless, Koh decided to cooperate with investigations in hopes of keeping his job. 

The co-accused had also regularly told Koh to delete the messages they exchanged as they were related to illegal remote gambling. However, Koh did not do so as he wanted some proof just in case the co-accused played him out someday.

While Koh admitted to earning profit from facilitating the participation of others in remote gambling, the precise quantum of the profit he earned is undetermined.

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