Wed, Oct 14, 2009 - Page 4 News List

Jail sentences for illicit gambling may be increased


Following a string of baseball game-rigging scandals, the government may make illegal sports betting punishable by as many as 15 years in prison, a lawmaker’s office said yesterday.

A proposal in the legislature calls for a maximum 10-year prison term and a fine of up to NT$10 million (US$320,000 ) for gambling on professional games, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Sun Ta-chien’s (孫大千) office said.

The proposal also allows imprisonment for up to 15 years and fines of up to NT$30 million for using violence or blackmail to facilitate gambling, the office said in a statement.

All betting on domestic sports is banned in Taiwan. There is a government-organized sports lottery, but it is exclusively for games abroad, such as Major League Baseball or soccer.

The current regulations allow judges to jail those convicted of operating gambling rings for up to five years, with a maximum fine of NT$1,000.

“This has little effect in thwarting gambling,” the statement said.

The move comes after a series of game-fixing scandals that have tarnished the image of the nation’s professional baseball.

Last year, Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League banned the dMedia T-Rex team on match-fixing allegations implicating three players.

The scandal outraged fans, already jolted by earlier similar cases. A scandal that erupted in 1996 — the worst in the history of Taiwanese sport — led to the disbanding of the China Times Eagles.

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