Irish internet model Jessie Vard, who has a following of 2.5 million on Facebook, is facing up to a year in jail for promoting a gambling site where Thai fans can bet on results of the World Cup.
Yesterday, the 21 year old, along with a team of four other models, turned herself in at Bangkok’s Phayathai Police Station. The quintet’s arrest warrants were issued after they posted on social media encouraging people to bet on different gambling sites, which police are not revealing to the public (y’know, lest you get the itch to visit them and gamble).
Vard, who has another 179,000 Instagram followers, reportedly posted a now-deleted selfie in which she holds up her phone with a gambling site’s homepage visible on the screen.
The other models summoned were Paradee Koosinsap (21), Saitarn Yim-ampai (20), Nirada Kuenongkun (25) and Thanyakarn Lojin (23).
The models are currently awaiting sentencing. Under the Anti-Gambling Act, they face up to one year in prison and a THB1,000 (about US$30) fine, according to Thai PBS.
Vard apologized publicly at yesterday’s police press conference on behalf of the entire group of models who alleged promoted the gambling sites. The 21 year old admitted to accepting compensation for the selfie, claiming she didn’t know promoting betting sites was illegal.
Nine other social media influencers have yet to answer similar police summonses, according to Maj. Gen. Panurat Lakboon, a deputy commander of the Metropolitan Police.
Maj. Gen. Panurat said that 1,115 gambling participants and initiators have been arrested and more than THB33 million (about US$1 million) has so far been seized.
The deputy police chief also asked that so-called internet idols become role models for the youth. (Editor’s note: Youth, you can do better.)
Vard, who moved to Thailand with her father as a child, is one of the most famous foreigners on Thailand’s social media scene. When the Irish model’s overt sexiness was scrutinized and she considered calling it quits, her fans started an online petition, asking her to never stop taking sexy pictures.