Malaysian poker player Paul Phua has a built a reputation for himself as a high stakes poker player but has also gained attention over the years for being a key player in the global match fixing business.
Phua recently visited Melbourne in early January after the Crown Casino extended a personal invite to the high stakes poker player and flew him in via a corporate jet. Phua’s presence in Melbourne has caused concern for Australian authorities as Australia was in the middle of hosting the Australian Open Grand Slam, closing out the India vs. Australia T20 series and completing the Big Bash League.
According to abc.net, an investigation launched by Four Corners rated Phua as a threat to the integrity of sport in Australia as there have been allegations in the past of Phua having strong ties to one of the biggest illegal sports betting websites in the world. These websites are often registered in places like the Isle of Man, Curaco and Manila, who then go on to extend their sports betting services to a number of countries where sports betting is banned.
These illegal websites not only offer sports betting services but also have strong ties to the criminal underworld and match fixing syndicates who help these websites make even more money since they influence the outcome of matches in a number of sports. The recent allegations made by a South American tennis player that match fixing in tennis is a common occurrence has made Phua’s presence during the Australian open a bigger cause for concern.
In a statement, Neil Paterson, Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner said “We know that they’re accepting bets roughly of about $2 billion every week. It’s estimated globally that the unregulated betting markets that operate across all sports are worth between $1 [trillion] and $3 trillion annually.”
The Four Corners investigation exposed a matching fixing operation in 2013 when soccer players belonging to the Southern Stars Victoria Premier League team where targeted. This was the biggest match fixing scandal in Australia and revolved around placing bets via bookmakers from Asia.
Phua was arrested by U.S authorities back in 2014 after a Las Vegas sting operation exposed an illegal sports betting operation that was targeting the 2014 FIFA World Cup. According to the MalayMailOnline, the operation highlighted the fact that Phua was one of the key leaders in a feared sports betting mafia but he wasn’t convincted in the U.S as the case was dismissed due to the fact that sting operation violated the fourth amendment of the constitution.
Both Paul Phua and Melbourne’s Crown Casino did not comment on the concerns highlighted by the Four Corners investigation.