Sick Gambling in Taiwan – Betting on When Terminally Ill Cancer Patients Will Die

A macabre gambling trend has taken off in Taiwan’s thrid largest city of Taichung. Doctors, nurses and even the families of terminally ill cancer patients are placing bets on when the sick will die, for the chance to win three times the wagered sum.

It’s sick what some people will do for money. According to various news reports, a sinister gambling trend has sprung up in Taichung, Taiwan- people are actually making bets on how long incurable cancer patients in the city’s hospitals have to live. And we’re not talking about isolated cases of morally-challenged gamblers looking to make some money through any means possible, this is a full-fledged underground industry industry worth over $30 million. On a single Taichung street there are over 60 so-called “senior clubs” posing as charity organisations for the elderly that are nothing more than gambling dens challenging punters to place their bets on whatever cancer patient they think is the most likely to die within one month. What’s even more disturbing about this practice is that doctors, nurses and even family members of the terminally ill patients are also eager for a piece of the action.

Photo: Huang Kuo-feng/Want China Times

Local media reports many dying patients of in the wards of Taichung hospitals wake up to see not only relatives by their bedsides, but also groups of gamblers checking their vital signs and inquiring about the prognosis. Bet organizers also roam the hospitals regularly, whispering to various clients that it will soon be time to “pay the bill” or “close the case”. The sickening game is very simple. As a dying cancer patient is put into play, gamblers have to make a bet of at least $40 ($65), but reports say some punters have placed as much as $350,000. If the patient dies within one month, the house takes the entire pot, but if he survives past that, pay-outs to punters rise with each day and week the ill person manages to cheat death, up to six months.

Taichung’s Street of Death 

What’s appalling about all this is bookies actually ask for permission from the cancer patient’s family to put him into play, and promise them 10% of the whole put, should he survive for another month. Stomp reports a 10% finders fee is paid to families of the patients win or lose, making the game even more hard to resist, especially for poor families who can’t even afford the cost of the burial. In some cases, families have apparently been offered bonuses by bet organizers if they instruct doctors to withhold life-prolonging treatments. Taiwan police is currently investigating this macabre gambling trend.

Hell of a world we’re living in, eh…

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