Gambling costs World Cup fans their lives

Updated: 2014-07-03 08:18

By He Na, Meng Jing and Cao Yin (China Daily)

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Gambling costs World Cup fans their lives
Wang Xiaoying/China Daily 

Debts racked up on World Cup games can turn deadly, report He Na, Meng Jing and Cao Yin in Beijing.

For millions of viewers in China and across the globe, the World Cup is a monthlong extravaganza of soccer and a chance to share the triumphs and losses with family and friends. For a limited number, though, it is a descent into

Marriage was on the line
First person | Song Sujun

Editor's note: Song Sujun, 35, is both an avid soccer fan and punter. He is a manager of a supermarket in Changchun, Jilin province, and has been placing bets for about a decade.

It couldn't really be called gambling at university for we began placing bets on soccer matches for meals. I began seriously betting on soccer in 2009 and my biggest single win was for 3,000 yuan ($482), but I have lost many more times than I have won.

My addiction reached a climax in 2012 for the European Champions League final. I bet through one of my colleagues; he knew where to place it. We bet on a number of outcomes during the match, as just betting on who would win or lose seemed too simple. We placed bets on the score, goal difference, and even when the referee would show a yellow card, to which team or to what player.

I haven't met the banker, but my colleague said that the banker also receives bets on the color of the clothes of a certain well-known person when they appear at a public event.

I lost more than 40,000 yuan that year and my wife almost divorced me. I have quit gambling now and have promised my wife that I will only watch games for the football.

Song talked to He Na and Han Junhong.

the despair of unpayable debts racked up by gambling.

In one case, on June 27, a woman committed suicide at a hotel in Haikou, Hainan province, after losing more than 100,000 yuan ($16,000) gambling on the World Cup. said the woman, surnamed Wang, 32, had previously placed bets on the outcome of matches and had lost tens of thousands of yuan before her husband settled most of her debts. In an effort to recoup the losses, she borrowed more than 100,000 yuan to bet on other matches but lost this money also.

Wang locked herself in a hotel restroom and lit charcoal before succumbing to the fumes. The police found a suicide note in which she expressed her remorse for the grief she knew her family would feel.

Wang was not alone in her despair. Several other suicides have been reported nationwide, and across the globe.

On June 10, a college student leaped to his death in Panyu, Guangdong province, after losing more than $3,000. The plight of those driven to suicide means that a harsh spotlight is being shone on gambling, both legal and illegal, especially sites set up overseas that may appear legitimate but are, in actual fact, scams.

According to the National Sports Lottery Center, the industry regulator, more than 150 million yuan in bets were placed on June 12 in the country, the tournament's opening day, three times the amount for the previous World Cup.

Statistics from the Beijing-based Caitong Consultancy, a lottery research institute, showed that bets hit 2.24 billion yuan within the first week of the World Cup, which roughly equals the total of 2.3 billion yuan during the whole 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

By midday on June 21, accumulated bets had soared to 4 billion yuan. Insiders predicted that bets placed during the World Cup would exceed 10 billion yuan.

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