Vegetable seller jailed for heading casino betting syndicate

In what appears to be the first illegal betting syndicate in a Singapore casino, a 49-year vegetable seller has pleaded guilty to acting as an illegal bookmaker.

For offering private insurance bets, Lee Chin Chuan was sentenced to 10 months jail and fined S$90,000 on Monday, reported The Straits Times.

The scheme helps baccarat players to minimise their losses by reducing the risk of losing the original wager.

It was reported that Lee made S$30,000 before he was arrested at Marina Bay Sands on 14 June, where police found on him S$13,200 worth of chips, S$4,784 in cash and a S$100,000 cheque.

Lee, a father of four who earned about S$2,000 a month running a vegetable stall at a wet market in Jurong East, began offering the side bets in March and was joined by masseur Goh Boon Kwang, 43, who asked to work for him.

The VIP member at the casino also roped in three other runners – odd-job worker Ang Keng Peng, 38 and two Indonesians. Each was paid between S$100 and S$150 a day.

Lee would give the runners S$20,000 worth of chips to use as an insurance float, before telling them which players to target.

After placing the float near the gambler at the side of the table, the runners would try not to touch it often so as to avoid arousing suspicion.

So when players won their side bets, they took chips from the float while losers added theirs to the pile, reported the same paper.

Goh and one of the Indonesians Ricki, 26, were arrested on the same day in a members’ only area of the casino called the Paiza Diamond Club.

Lee’s lawyer Alfred Dodwell told the court that Lee learnt about insurance bets from a friend he met in the casino early this year, who claimed it was a standard feature in the casinos of Genting Highlands.

According to The New Paper, it only occurred to him later that his actions were illegal, but he still continued with it.

District Judge Eddy Tham said Lee deserved a stiff sentence for heading and financing the casino betting syndicate.

Lee’s wife wrote a letter to the court describing him as hardworking and devoted to her and their four children, aged seven to 19.

Dodwell also added that Lee is merely a “poor and uneducated man… who strayed into the casinos, as all people do with the hope of winning, save that he crossed the line of legality and has readily accepted it.”

However, Judge Tham said that that was not the image Lee had portrayed when a S$100,000 cheque was found on him.

Lee could have been jailed for up to five years and fined up to S$200,000.

Goh has been sentenced to six months in prison and fined S$60,000. Ang and Ricki were jailed four months and fined S$40,000 and S$50,000 respectively.

The third runner, an Indonesian known only as Rino or Jackson, is still at large.