Chinese Student Leaps to Death Due to World Cup Gambling Debts
A second-year college student leaped to his death from the 7th story of a building after losing $7,000 gambling on the World Cup, Chinese state media said today. The student, identified only as “Lin”, jumped from a building on his campus on Monday. A witness said he jumped after learning he had lost a big football wager.
Behind in Payments to Loan Sharks
One observer told the Information Times, “I heard him say ‘Do not force me’ and ‘Give me two more days and I’ll return you the money.’”
The witness said Lin spoke on the phone for ten more minutes, haggling with his bookie over the losses. The female witness added, “I saw him hang up and stand up and then, all in a sudden, he just disappeared.”
Lost HK$25,000 on Several Matches
The student was rushed to a hospital in Panyu in the Guangdong province, which is found in the south of China. Doctors at the hospital were not able to revive the man, though.
Another student, who was a friend and classmate of the dead man, says Lin had gambled nearly 20,000 yuan on World Cup matches. That sum of money is roughly equal to $25,000 Hong Kong dollars or $7,000 US dollars.
“The Interest Rate Was Rather High”
The anonymous student told reporters, “We heard that he borrowed quite a lot of money and the interest rate was rather high.”
Gambling in China Reaches Record Proportions
The report did not mention which national squads Mr. Lin had wagered on. China has millions upon millions of football fans, including many who gamble significant amounts. In Hong Kong last week, police busted a World Cup betting ring which took in over US$600 million in one week, which is an all-time record for a busted illegal gaming ring.
China is now the world capital of gambling. The city of Macau now brings in more revenues each year than its two nearest rivals–Las Vegas and Singapore–combined. Prosperity has combined with a fascination with gambling to fuel an industry that now reaches into the tens of billions per year. While most gambling stays within the healthy range of entertainment and thrill-seeking, problem gambling is a social ill which affects China, along with other countries around the globe.
Illegal gambling is a particular social problem, because banned gaming often contributes to organized crime revenues. Even when it doesn’t, the activity helps criminals launder money.
Chinese World Cup Lottery
The Chinese government has legal gambling in Macau, but bans the practice everywhere else in China.This pushes sports betting underground, where bookies, loan sharks, and triads control the bookmaker businesses. When a gambler loses a lot of money, they cannot go to the local law enforcement for protection. To do so would invite investigation of their own banned actions. With no legal recourse, they often resort to desperate tactics: crime or suicide.
For big events like the 2014 World Cup, officials try to offer alternatives. The Chinese government has a World Cup-related lottery contest taking place at present. Ticket sales for the lottery have reached 4 billion yuan at present. That number is nearly twice the amount of gambling proceeds on a similar lottery for the 2010 World Cup.
Chinese World Cup Curse?
It is possible Lin’s jump from the seventh story might not be the only case of World Cup-induced death. Chinese news sources have reported a series of tragedies which have befallen people during World Cup broadcasts, which are shown late at night, due to China’s global positioning vis a vis Brazil.
In Liaoning province, a woman jumped from the 9th floor of an apartment block after her boyfriend left her alone. He apparently left the flat to go watch a World Cup match on TV.
In Chongqing, a pregnant woman suffered a miscarriage while celebrating a German goal against the Portuguese National Team. The woman was said to have been a long-time fan of German soccer.
One man was found dead in his room while watching World Cup broadcasts on his computer. Another slipped into a coma due to insomnia, which appeared to have been caused by his staying up several nights in a row to watch all the late-night matches.