Taiwan may introduce tougher punishments for illegal sports betting, with jail terms of up to 15 years, following a string of baseball game-rigging scandals, legislative officials said Tuesday.
A proposal in the legislature calls for a maximum 10-year imprisonment in addition to a fine of up to 10 million Taiwan dollars (320,000 US dollars) for gambling on professional games, according to lawmaker Sun Ta-chien's office.
The proposed law also permits imprisonment for up to 15 years, as well as fines ranging to 30 million Taiwan dollars, for using violence or blackmail to facilitate gambling, the office said in a statement.
All betting on domestic sports is banned in Taiwan. There is a government-organised sports lottery, but it is exclusively for games abroad, such as American baseball or European football.
Currently operators of gambling rings can be jailed for up five year, while the maximum fine is 1,000 Taiwan dollars.
"This has little effect in thwarting gambling," the statement said.
The move comes after a series of game-fixing scandals that have tarnished the image of the island's professional baseball.
Last year, Taiwan's baseball league banned the Media T-Rex team on match-fixing allegations implicating three players and others.
The scandal outraged fans, already jolted by earlier similar cases, and dealt another blow to the island's professional baseball league.
A scandal that erupted in 1996, the worst in the history of the sport here, led to the disbanding of the China Times Eagles.