TOKYO (TR) – A gambling scandal involving Japanese badminton players is expanding in scope, with an investigative report released on Friday revealing that star Kenichi Tago visited illegal casinos roughly 60 times, according to the Asahi Shimbun (April 8).
A report issued by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone East (NTT East), the team sponsor, indicates that Tago, 26, patronized a baccarat casino in Tokyo’s Sumida Ward about 10 times per month between October of 2014 and March of 2015.
“I deeply regret my hasty action,” Tago said at a press conference on Friday. “I have betrayed those who have supported me. Full responsibility falls to me. I am sorry.”
Tago also introduced Kento Momota, 21, who is ranked fourth in the world, to the same casino. Momota visited six times through January of last year.
The illegal casino in question was busted by Tokyo Metropolitan Police in April of last year. The following month, police took Mitsuo Seki, a 60-year-old boss in the Sumiyoshi-kai organized crime group, into custody for introducing customers to the casino.
After the raid, Tago then began visiting a casino in Yokohama several times per month through January of this year.
The report adds that the athletes gambled between approximately 20,000 yen to 100,000 yen per visit.
Momota said at the same press conference that he dropped 500,000 yen during his visits to the casino. Meanwhile, Tago lost approximately 10 million yen, according to an estimate provided by Masayuki Okumoto, a representative of NTT East’s badminton team, reports Sports Nippon (April 8).
The scandal initially broke on Thursday, when the team announced that both players had admitted to participating in illegal gambling.
Additionally, six male youth players also participated in illegal gambling, the report said without elaborating.
Momota had already claimed a spot on Japan’s team for this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Tago was eliminated in the first round of the Olympics in London four years ago.
The executive director of the Nippon Badminton Association, Kinji Zeniya, said on Thursday that it is unlikely that Momota will participate in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro if the allegations are confirmed.