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Cancer patient death bets probed

AFP-JIJI

Taiwan’s police have launched an investigation into a report that gamblers are betting tens of millions of New Taiwan dollars on the life expectancy of terminally ill cancer patients.

The investigation comes after the Taipei-based Next magazine claimed that gamblers — including the families and doctors of cancer sufferers — in the central city of Taichung are placing bets as high as NT$34.5 million ($117,000) on when patients will die.

The report describes a rampant new trend served by betting stations in disguised as nonprofit organizations, where punters are paid three times their bets if the patients targeted die between one and six months of a prediction.

“We’ve been looking at the media report,” a Taichung police officer said Tuesday.

Punters are allowed to visit cancer patients before placing their bets, which start at a minimum of NT$70 ($2.40), and lose out to the bookies if their selected patients die within a month, according to the magazine. The expose also identifies one road with more than 10 betting shops that is now known as “death gambling street.”