Police bust Thai lottery ring in St. Paul that mimics Bangkok game

THAILAND - MARCH 09: Lottery tickets being sold in the street, Bangkok, Thailand. (Photo by Tim Graham/Getty Images) (Getty Images)

St. Paul police have charged two people in an effort to thwart an illegal Thai gambling ring that mimics a lottery in Bangkok.

King Thao, 57, and Choua Yang, 61, both of St. Paul, face four counts each of various acts of illegal gambling for their part in a ring that police say operated a game that is legal in Bangkok, but not in Minnesota.

According to charges, in June 2021, special agents with Minnesota's alcohol and gambling enforcement division began investigating an illegal gambling operation at 995 University Avenue in St. Paul. A previous investigation at the same location found several people who were associated with the illegal lottery.

The Thai lottery is conducted on the 1st and 15th of each month, with the bettor placing cash bets with a seller on several numbers. The seller will record the bets and provide the bettor with a yellow, handwritten, paper receipt slip with the date, numbers, and book number of the bet. The receipt is later used to claim prizes if the numbers match.

The operators of the lottery sell tickets or betting slips, collect the money tax-free, and pay out the winning bets. The yellow receipt is a distinct characteristic of the system.

In November 2021, special agents executed a search warrant at the St. Paul address, where they observed people selling yellow lottery tickets.

During the search, they also found around 18 receipt booklets (with multiple yellow receipts), three suspected Thai lotto booklets, two envelopes containing yellow receipts and several notebooks with writings in them.

Yang was the owner of the store where the search warrant was executed, in which a register was also found to have yellow Thai lottery receipts.