Another Massive Illegal Gambling Ring Busted in Vietnam

Vietnamese police busted an $87-million illegal online gambling ring as the World Cup is entering its final week, local news outlets reported earlier today.

Following coordinated raids in several cities across the country, officers arrested ten people on illegal gambling charges on Sunday. The operation was conducted jointly by officers from Vietnam’s Police Department for High-Tech Crime Prevention, the HCMC Police Department, and the Criminal Police Department.

Police said they believed they had arrested the people behind the M88gin.com gambling website. The illegal operation serviced Vietnamese gamblers since 2015. With its servers located in the Philippines, it was found to have offered betting on football matches, casino games, and lottery services.

Police further revealed that the online gambling ring was worth more than VND2 trillion (approximately $87 million). Aside from the ten arrested suspects, officers also seized tens of thousands of dollars, documents belonging to those arrested, cars, equipment, and savings books worth over VND10 billion (approximately $436,475), which were, too, believed to have been related to the illegal provision of gambling services by the suspects. Authorities said that further investigations would be carried out into the operation and those involved in it.

Gambling is a popular activity in Vietnam, even though residents of the Southeast Asian country have very few legal options to gamble. Vietnam has several land-based casinos, but residents are not allowed into these. A state-run lottery provides a certain number of regulated services.

Under a recent amendment of the country’s gambling law, local bettors are now allowed to wager on a limited number of international football matches. However, they cannot place bets worth over $44 per match, which active gamblers consider a very small amount. As a result, Vietnam, similarly to other countries in the region, has a booming black market.

Largest Illegal Gambling Ring

Sunday’s raids resulted in what could be the largest illegal gambling ring bust by Vietnamese police in terms of the volume of bets it had processed. Late last month, authorities arrested four people on illegal betting charges. They were believed to have been involved in the operation of the 12bet gaming and betting website, which too originated from the Philippines. Police said the amount of VND600 billion (approximately $26 million) was wagered on the website by Vietnamese gamblers since the beginning of 2017.

Earlier this year, police detained dozens of people suspected to be involved in a massive gambling ring worth over VND1 trillion (approximately $44 million). A former Director of Vietnam’s General Police Department and a former Director of the Ministry of Public Security’s Cyber Crime Division were among those arrested in relation to the illegal business which was led by two local tech businessmen and operated since April 2015. The operation was found to have attracted over 14 million gamblers since it went live in Vietnam.

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