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High-Stakes Poker Player Paul Phua Arrested In Las Vegas For Allegedly Taking Bets On World Cup

Malaysian Businessman Arrested Along With Seven Others


High-stakes poker player Paul Phua was arrested along with seven others for allegedly “operating an illegal gambling business” out of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

The feds said that each defendant is charged with one count of unlawful transmission of wagering information and one count of operating an illegal gambling business.

If convicted of the alleged crimes, they each face up to two years in prison on the unlawful transmission count and up to five years in prison on the illegal gambling business count, as well as fines on each count of up to $250,000.

According to the Department of Justice press release:

“On or about June 18, 2013, Phua was arrested in Macau, along with more than 20 other individuals, for operating an illegal sport book gambling business transacting illegal bets on the World Cup Soccer Tournament. Phua posted bail in Macau and was released. The complaint alleges that on June 23, 2014, Phua arrived in Las Vegas to continue with his associates their illegal gambling business at a local casino. During early June 2014, three villas were reserved at a local casino at the request of Wei Seng Phua or one of his associates. Between June 6 and June 11, 2014, Phua and two of his associates…checked into the villas. Phua and his associates allegedly requested that the casino install an unusually large amount of electronics equipment in the villas to support eight Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) lines, and WiFi access.

“The casino installed and set up the equipment, but became concerned the equipment appeared to be a set-up for an illegal gambling operation. In one of the villas, computer screens were observed which looked similar to the ones in the casino’s sports book, including five stations and three monitors attached to each station. Each station’s computer tower was hooked up to a Century Link DSL line with voice over internet protocol phones. Near the computer stations, there were three large screen televisions with service from Cox, Dish and Direct TV, each of which was tuned to World Cup soccer games. The Nevada Gaming Control Board, subsequently determined that the set-up was similar to a ‘wire room’ where illegal wagers are made and monitored, and that the defendants were monitoring the World Cup and betting odds associated with World Cup soccer games in furtherance of operating a gambling business.

“Over the next month, law enforcement agents worked undercover and monitored the activity in the villas. On July 9, 2014, federal search warrants were executed at the three villas and law enforcement agents recovered gambling records, computer equipment, and other items. The defendants were arrested yesterday after it was determined that they were allegedly remotely controlling computers based overseas which allowed them to operate and manage their illegal gambling business from Las Vegas.”

Phua is a well-known poker player who frequents the high-stakes cash games in Macau. He played at the WSOP in 2012 in the $1 million buy-in “Big One for One Drop.”

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the prosecutor in the case said that, without citing names, a number of Phua’s poker associates may have been involved in illegal activity uncovered by the FBI investigation. It’s unclear if anything will come from this.

Phua will have to stay in Las Vegas while the case unfolds.

According to the Review-Journal, Phua said he is worth between $300 million and $400 million.

Tags: Paul Phua


almost 7 years ago

I continue to be amazed at how dumb smart people can be sometimes.


over 6 years ago

There are reports that SBOBET were linked to this man, however they made it clear that they are not connected with this one you can check their official statement at


over 6 years ago

Are these poker associates american? Who are they?