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They gamble openly in Geylang alley

Just before the break of dawn, a group of men sets up a table.

Within minutes, a small crowd gathers, clutching stacks of money, ready to place their bets.

For the past month or so, an illegal 2m-long gambling table has been set up every morning at the alley between Geylang Lorong 15 and 17.

Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao reported yesterday that the illegal gambling starts at 5am every day, continuing in broad daylight till about 10am.

Around 20 people stand around it with stacks of $50 notes, ready to play Sic Bo, a dice game, with minimum bets believed to be in the hundreds.

It was reported that the gamblers range from those in their 20s to those in their 60s. They arrive either in pairs or alone.

Each round takes barely minutes to finish and is facilitated by two men.

Madam Ng, 55, who lives nearby and works in one of the eating houses, said she sees the table occasionally.

"But I just walk past and ignore them," she said. "No one wants to get into trouble by being a busybody."

Men, believed to be lookouts, sit outside the alley, wearing Bluetooth headsets and signalling to each other with their eyes.

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Mr Rick Tan, 67, a retiree who lives across the street from Lorong 17, has not witnessed the gambling taking place, but heard about it from his son.

The younger Tan works the graveyard shift and has seen the group around the table when he gets home from work.

He said: "It used to be just the prostitutes and that was already a problem. Now when they go home, the other vice surfaces."

A police spokesman said they take a serious view on all forms of illegal betting and will prosecute bookmakers and bettors alike to the fullest extent under the law.

"Under Chapter 21 of the Betting Act, anyone who bets with a bookmaker shall be liable on conviction to a fine of up to $5,000, imprisonment for a term of up to six months, or both," said the spokesman.

Anyone who is found to be involved in bookmaking shall be liable for a fine of at least $20,000 and up to $200,000, and imprisonment for a term of up to five years, he added.

"Anyone with information on such activities is advised to report them to the police immediately.

"Information provided will be kept strictly confidential," he said.

"But I just walk past and ignore them. No one wants to get into trouble by being a busybody."

- Madam Ng, who lives near the Geylang alley where people gamble

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