Whilst some of my relatives have died of cancer thankfully nobody particularly close to me has gone that way.
For this I thank my lucky stars as by all accounts dying of cancer is a long and painfully drawn out process, both for the sufferer and those close to them. Whilst it’s hard to hypothesise on the situation, I can only imagine that should it ever come to pass I’d try to be there and see them through it.
Death due to illness isn’t something I’ve ever had problems accepting. The body fails for whatever reason and short of relying on modern medical science, there’s not all that much you can do but accept it and prepare for the end.
Meanwhile over in Central Taiwan’s Taichung City things are a little bit different. Family members there are busy running around placing bets on when their cancer stricken relatives will die.
Dubbed the “Death Gambling Street”, various gambling rings betting on when cancer patients will die have been quietly blooming.
Operating under the guise of “social organizations”, roughly ten such gambling dens operate on a 200 meter or so stretch of the Shijia East Road in Taichung City.
Operators of the dens hire people to bring in the gamblers and track down suitable terminally ill patients suffering from cancer. Once a suitable patient is found, gamblers then place bets on when the patient will die, with doctors used to determine odds against the patient dying.
Patients are often sourced from family members themselves, who also then participate in the gambling (often along with the doctors caring for them).
Numbers wise the dens have about 500-1000 members each. Members must pay a membership fee to participate in the betting, with minimum bets set around $2000 TWD ($69 USD) and maximum bets well over ten million TWD ($344,800 USD).
The betting itself seems to be relatively simple, with the dens placing odds on the patient dying within a specified period of time (usually under 6 months). If the patient survives beyond this time, those who placed bets win a payout.
If the patient dies within a month of the betting going live, the dens keep all of the money. Win or lose, the dens routinely pay out a 10% or so finders fee to family members of the patient if any are involved.
To date, it is estimated that these gambling dens have seen over one billion TWD ($34.4 million USD) in business.
When exposed and confronted by the press, one den owner, a “Mr. Cheng” (photo right) defended the practice of placing bets on when terminally ill cancer patients will die, arguing that
what we do is like social insurance to help poor people source funeral money.
Meanwhile, the Taichung City Bureau of Social Affairs declared that such betting practices were “devoid of humanity”, reaffirming that participation in such betting rings is illegal.
Honestly, I can appreciate people scratching the gambling itch but how bloody messed up do you have to be to get involved and participate in this sort of sadistic nonsense?