Saturday December 28,2013 : SOUTH KOREA'S GAMBLING CELEBRITIES GET SUSPENDED SENTENCES (Update)
Trio wagered hundreds of thousands of US dollars on sports events.
The trial of three South Korean entertainment industry celebrities charged with illegal betting on sports events came to a conclusion Friday with Seoul Central District Court Judge Shin Myung-hee handing down suspended sentences to the trio.
Comedian Lee Soo-geun, singer Tak Jae-hoon and Tony An, a former member of the popular 1990s boy band HOT, were sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for one year, the Yonhap news agency reports.
All three pleaded guilty and apologised profusely and repeatedly for their behaviour in wagering hundreds of millions of Korean won (hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars) on football teams in the English Premier League through online gambling websites.
In South Korea, the only legal form of sports betting is through buying Sports Toto lottery tickets operated by a state-licensed brokerage company. Sports Toto offers odds on wins, ties, losses and the combined scores between teams. A bettor can only wager 100,000 won per ticket up to six times a day.
"The defendants should be highly blamed for their crimes, considering their social status as well as the amount and the period of the gambling," Judge Shin Myung-hee said in her ruling.
"The court, however, took into consideration that the defendants showed sincere remorse for their crimes and that they promised not to repeat the crimes."
Following the verdicts, the disgraced celebrities said they will not appeal to a higher court.
The three are the last cases to be finalised against a total of 21 South Korean sports betting punters charged by local police for using their mobile phones to illegally place bets with foreign online gambling websites
During the investigation most of the celebrities involved admitted to gambling at lower wagering amounts, prosecutors said.