Police investigate claims of gambling with dying patients - Taipei Times

Greater Taichung police on Tuesday said they have launched an investigation into a report that gamblers are betting tens of millions of dollars on the life expectancy of terminally ill cancer patients.

The investigation comes after the Chinese-language Next Magazine reported that gamblers in Greater Taichung — including the families and doctors of cancer patients — are placing bets as high as NT$1 billion (US$34.5 million) on when a patient will die.


Punters are allowed to visit cancer patients before placing their bets, which start at a minimum of NT$2,000, losing to the bookies if their selected patients die within a month, the magazine said.

Underground Gambling on When Cancer Patients Will Die Exposed - China Smack

Among the details mentioned in the above report, one is the payout. If the patient dies between 1 and 6 months, the bettor is paid 3x their wager. Government officials and family members can also get 10% dividend/share. However, if the patient dies within one month, there is no payout. After 6 months, the payout is decreased and if after a year, the bettor may lose money. “Even more ridiculous” is that doctors provided consultation for bettors on a patient’s condition.

Is any underground activity happening at all?

If there is economic activity, was most of it gambling in the accepted meaning of the word?

I suspect that relatives of cancer sufferers may be worried about medical bills, and would be willing to pay a certain amount of money to ensure that if their relative survived for a few months and therefore got more of a medical bill, that they'd have some extra money to pay for it. Maybe the decreased payouts after 6 months or more is to ensure that only genuinely terminally ill people are bet upon, rather than elderly relatives.

By contrast, if someone (other than the bookie) is betting on an individual they have no financial interest in, then that would be seen as gambling.

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One newspaper article is asserting that some betting is from individuals with a legitimate financial interest, while others others are not:

Legitimate financial interest:

The manager of one game house claims that the patients are willing participants in the betting craze, hoping that the money will help pay off medical bills or funeral costs, the Mirror reports.

Not legitimate financial interest, more like gambling

The punters can also place combination bets, linking together the expected life spans of several different patients.

Mr. Ho said that his customers range from life insurance agents, to relatives, police and even doctors.

However, the newspaper article is too tabloid to be regarded as reliable.

A Twitter search for Taiwan gambling die isn't giving many, if any, news articles subsequent to the initial allegations.

If the government investigated the claims, and found sufficient evidence to prosecute, and that prosecution got covered by English language media, you'd get more recent matches in Twitter. This is looking somewhat doubtful.

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