Thai DSI Seizes Phuket Villas in Illegal UFA Gambling Crackdown

The Thai Department of Special Investigation (DSI) recently seized two high-value villas in Phuket, linked to the illegal online gambling network UFA. These properties, located in the coastal area of Nai Harn Bay and collectively known as Thousand Hills Phuket, cover an area of approximately 3.75 acres and are valued at over 2 billion baht (around $56.5 million).

The operation, led by DSI Director General Police Major Suriya Singhakamol, found only housekeepers and ground staff present at the properties. The DSI team informed the staff about the seizure and posted notices around the villas.

DSI reports that these villas are owned by a syndicate connected to UFA, an illicit gambling operation. Despite Thailand’s strict prohibition on online gambling, illegal networks like UFA have been operating to fill the demand.

The properties are linked to a man named Phakphum, also known as Didi, who was arrested earlier this month. Initially denying involvement, Phakphum later admitted his connection to UFA and was charged under Thailand’s AML Act. He reportedly managed revenue for UFA and ran factories that operated “mule accounts,” used for gambling websites. These facilities, largely staffed by migrants, managed over 80 such accounts, with 30 registered under Thai players’ names. Each account handled billions of baht, processing 3% of the income from the 83 gambling sites under Phakphum’s management.

The crackdown on UFA, which operates dozens of websites, continues. The network’s founder, Phuchit, remains at large, along with his sister Phonpansa and 13 others linked to UFA. Suriya has urged those involved to surrender, warning of additional money laundering charges.

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The seizure of these villas is seen as a critical step in the ongoing efforts to dismantle the UFA network and its illegal activities.

On the matter of brick & mortar casinos, gambling dens served as significant revenue generators in Thailand’s past. However, they were eventually shut down in an effort to reduce crime and prevent widespread bankruptcy caused by gambling. Two months ago, a Bangkok Post report showed that a parliamentary committee is evaluating casino legalization in the country.

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