Knights guard probed over alleged illegal betting

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Knights guard probed over alleged illegal betting

While Korea’s basketball community has been suffering from an alleged match-fixing scandal involving former Anyang KGC coach Jeon Chang-jin, who is still under investigation, it is now facing another headache: alleged illegal gambling by players.

The Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency, which has been investigating former and current sports players’ illegal gambling activities since June, said on Wednesday that Seoul SK Knights guard Kim Sun-hyung is on its investigation list for illegal sports betting.

In Korea, the only legal form of sports betting is through state-managed Sports Toto lottery tickets.

The police suspect the 27-year-old was involved while he was with ChungAng University.

“There were statements from others that [Kim] was involved in illegal gambling,” Park Min-soon, who leads Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency’s cyber investigation team, told Ilgan Sports, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily. “We couldn’t ignore those statements, that’s why we are investigating.”

Park emphasized this doesn’t mean Kim has actually gambled illegally, and they just want to check the rumors surrounding him. “It’s too early to call Kim a suspect,” he said. “We are in the blank state in our investigation. He could be innocent.”

Kim is currently with the Korea national team participating in the William Jones Cup in Taiwan. The team returns to Korea next Monday. The police said it will discuss a date for Kim to come to the station.

Kim, who joined the Knights in 2011, is one of the top stars in the Korean Basketball League (KBL), winning All-Star Game MVP in the last two seasons. Besides Kim, it was revealed last month that police are investigating other active and former basketball players as well as athletes in other sports for illegal gambling.

The KBL is in shock as the new season is just 10 days away. The league said the current release of information seems to be violating the innocent until proven guilty code for its players.

“We will discuss punishment after police accurately finish their investigation and announce the result for conviction,” said KBL Secretary General Lee Sung-hoon. “We feel embarrassed that a player’s name was mentioned by police and media even though he has not yet been convicted and is still being investigated.”

BY CHOI YONG-JAE, JOO KYUNG-DON [joo.kyungdon@joongang.co.kr]

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