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Graduate students arrested as baseball gambling probe widens

Shigeo Matsunaga
Shigeo Matsunaga

TOKYO (TR) – As the trial for a former Yomiuri Giants pitcher accused of illegal gambling gets underway, Tokyo Metropolitan Police on Tuesday made two more arrests in the case, which may include ties to organized crime, reports Nippon News Network (July 12).

Police arrested Shigeo Matsunaga, 40, Kentaro Oishi, 26, both graduate students at a university in Nagoya, for allegedly accepting wagers in conjunction with former pitcher Shoki Kasahara on 30 Nippon Professional Baseball and high school games in 2014 and 2015.

Oishi admits to the charges. Meanwhile, Matsunaga denies the allegations, telling police that he did not receive a commission for the wagers.

At a hearing held at the Tokyo District Court on Monday, Kasahara admitted to participating in illegal gambling. The wagers were brokered by Satoshi Saito, 38, a former restaurant manager who was also arrested.

The transactions were completed via mobile phone whereby Saito submitted betting lines to Kasahara, who then relayed the information to other players, including former pitchers Ryuya Matsumoto and Kyosuke Takagi. Prosecutors indicated that Kasahara has confessed to wagering a total of 15.75 million yen.

In September of last year, Matsunaga visited Yomiuri Giants Stadium in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture in inquiring about payments owed by Kasahara. It was following this meeting that the illegal activity surfaced.

In November, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) suspended Kasahara for an indefinite period after evidence of his gambling emerged. The month before, Satoshi Fukuda, 32, and Matsumoto were released and suspended for placing wagers on games, while Takagi received a one-year ban by NPB in March.

Tokyo Metropolitan Police are also advancing an investigation into whether a criminal syndicate played a role in the wagering.