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World Cup: Elephants vs Thailand Students in football match against gambling

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Nine Elephants took part in a football match last Tuesday against local students in the Thailand city of Ayutthaya to raise awareness against illegal gambling.

According to Thailand newspaper, The Nation, the Asian elephants, painted with the flags of the countries competing in this summer's World Cup, took part in a 15-minute match and a free-kick contest against the students.

Reuters reported, organizers wanted to show young people the World Cup was more about enjoying the sport than betting on teams.

“They’re here to bring colour and joy, and create awareness that we can enjoy the World Cup without gambling and just cheer for the soccer players,” said Reangthongbaht Meephan, deputy chief of the Ayutthaya Elephant Palace and Royal Kraal.

Betting or promoting gambling on football is a criminal offences in Thailand, with punishments of up to a 10,000 baht (£232.80) fine or three months in jail.

Bangkok’s deputy police commissioner Panurat Lakboon said they are monitoring over 300 gambling websites, but many are difficult to shut down because they are hosted on servers outside of Thailand.

Police say  they have arrested 763 people in 681 cases of illegal soccer gambling since May 1st in Bangkok alone, with many of those arrested being 18 to 21-year-olds.

Remarkably, a survey by the University of the Thai Chamber of Commerce forecasts 59 billion baht (£1.4 billion) in World Cup betting in Thailand this year, contributing 0.2 percent to economic growth.

One gambler told Reuters: “Betting on soccer is so easy in Thailand.

“You can even go into a market and ask around, and within 10 minutes someone will come to take your bet.”

 

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