Greater Taichung police on Tuesday said they have launched an investigation into a report that gamblers are betting tens of millions of dollars on the life expectancy of terminally ill cancer patients.
The investigation comes after the Chinese-language Next Magazine reported that gamblers in Greater Taichung — including the families and doctors of cancer patients — are placing bets as high as NT$1 billion (US$34.5 million) on when a patient will die.
The report said the trend is served by betting stations disguised as non-profit organizations, where punters are paid three times their bets if the targeted patients die between one and six months of a prediction.
“We’ve been looking at the media report,” a Taichung police officer said, declining to provide details.
Punters are allowed to visit cancer patients before placing their bets, which start at a minimum of NT$2,000, losing to the bookies if their selected patients die within a month, the magazine said.
The expose identified one road, which it claimed had more than 10 betting shops on it and is reportedly now known as the “death gambling street.”
“These offices are the betting stations, even though they can hardly be judged from their appearances,” the magazine said.
A staff member at one of the suspected organizations contacted by China Television Co (中視) denied that it was a front for a betting station and said the magazine’s report was exaggerated.
He said the group helped poor families pay for funerals that they would otherwise be unable to afford.
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