Illegal Gambling Ring in Vietnam Busted

illegal gambling ring

Vietnamese police busted what could be the largest illegal online gambling ring in the country’s history just as the World Cup was entering its final week.

The gambling ring was reported to be worth more than VND 2 trillion (approximately $87 million) and was, by far, the largest not only in terms of the money involved but also the volume of bets placed through its online platform, the website.

A Massive, Well-Coordinated Raid

The latest bust followed several raids conducted in multiple cities across Vietnam. The massive operation was jointly conducted by several police departments, including the HCMC Police Department, Vietnam’s Police Department for High-Tech Crime Prevention, and the Criminal Police Department.

Following the successful raid, Vietnamese police arrested 10 people who are believed to be the masterminds behind the illegal gambling ring. They also seized tens of thousands of dollars in dong and foreign currencies, as well as high-end cars that are alleged to have been purchased using proceeds from the ring. The police also seized electronic devices, as well as ledgers and savings books that are said to contain evidence of the gambling racket. There is already a lot of evidence against the people behind this gambling ring, but police have promised to continue with the investigation because it could uncover other related gambling rings.

A Spate of Busts

The latest arrest may have been the biggest in Vietnam so far, but it is not the only one. Earlier this year, police conducted another joint operation that busted an illegal gambling ring that was estimated to be worth more than VND 1 trillion (approximately $44 million). That raid also uncovered collusion with authorities and it resulted in the arrest of two key former government officials: a former director of the Ministry of Public Security’s Cyber Crime Division and a former director of Vietnam’s General Police Department. The ring was allegedly run by two local businessmen and had attracted more than 14 million clients over a period of just three years.

A smaller gambling ring was busted late last month. The ring, which was behind the website, is said to have been worth more than VND 600 billion (approximately $26 million), which it had accumulated since it started in 2017. The bust led to the arrest of four people.

An Illegal but Popular Activity

Sports betting, and gambling, in general, is illegal but, nevertheless, popular across Vietnam. The Vietnamese government has formulated several tough policies regulating gambling, and residents have very few legal options. Authorities have been easing these regulations following the proliferation of illegal gambling rings. For instance, the government formulated a state-run lottery that now provides regulated gambling services. Additionally, a recent amendment to the gambling law permitted gamblers to wager on a limited number of international football matches and limited bets to just $44, which most bettors consider to be meager.

The tough regulations put in place by the government have resulted in a huge and booming black market for gamblers all over the country and across many other countries in Asia that have similarly tough regulations on gambling. It has also given underworld crime bosses with the necessary resources opportunities to cash in on the multimillion-dollar black market because most of the rings are said to be operated by known figures in the criminal world. Most gambling rings in the country have their servers based in the Philippines —the country’s gambling laws are more flexible and more relaxed compared with most other countries in the region — and some prefer to operate physically in a bid to escape the authorities’ attention.

Ironically, Vietnam has several land-based casinos that offer a wide range of gambling options, but they are closed to its citizens.

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