Don’t believe it. Don’t believe it. Don’t believe it.

News has just broken about widespread arrests in Asia of gambling rings. It all sounds very dangerous. It all sounds exciting. It all sounds effective. It is none of the three.

It is — like FIFA’s diplomatic declaration of ‘no evidence’ found from a few days ago — a game. The game is played by local Asian police forces with the gangsters. They arrest a few people, take a little money and make a press announcement. Everyone is happy, the police get to look pro-active, the gamblers don’t have their top people arrested and the citizens think that something is being done about levels of crime. If the numbers mentioned seem a lot (5,000 arrests and £10 million) it is only because the Asian gambling market is massive that this is minuscule compared to the total size of the market.

Just think – what are these gangs actually doing? They are providing a service that in Europe, the UK and parts of North America is perfectly legal. People want to gamble on sports. They allow them to.

So read the newspapers, listen to the media and smile, but do not get caught up in this nonsense. Tomorrow morning tens of millions of Asians will go their bookies and place their bets on sporting events as they have always done. Nothing fundamental has changed.

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