Vietnamese police have busted an online gambling ring valued at close to $26m (£20m). Ten individuals were arrested, and several items were confiscated during the raid, including guns and cash.
Millions earned in just months
Vietnamese officials announced this week that the gambling ring had been in operation since July, and the ringleaders operated several online sites that provided sports betting and other gambling options. Hundreds of gamblers had used the sites over the past few months, generating the massive amount of cash for the operation.
According to police, the illegal online gambling ring network was operating in several provinces of Vietnam, including within the central and southern regions. The leader of the operation is said to be Huynh Quoc Viet, aged 37.
Police said: “We arrested seven people and three others turned themselves in. The investigation is still ongoing to see if anyone else is involved.”
Several homes were raided in cities across Vietnam. Police confiscated items including $20,000 (£15,193) in cash, cars, mobile telephones, and two rifles.
The suspects were reportedly also offering illegal high-interest loans and offered hired debt collection services that used force.
They face stiff penalties. Most forms of gambling are illegal in Vietnam; for example, operating an online betting ring can result in a jail sentence of up to 10 years.
Gambling in Vietnam
Access to gambling in Vietnam is quite restricted. The region offers gambling only for foreign visitors, pushing citizens to take part in underground gambling operations, including online casinos.
The government announced in 2017 that it would ease the restrictions involving sports betting and allow some Vietnamese to take part in gambling at casinos on an experimental basis, but this has yet to happen.
The country has a population of close to 93 million and, without access to legal gambling options, the illegal black market is quite lucrative. Even officials take part in illegal gambling. Police are currently investigating a large illegal gambling ring that is valued at $422m (£321m). If successful, this would be the largest gambling bust ever in the region, involving over 100 individuals, including former and current officials.
Back in March, Vietnamese authorities released more information about the massive betting ring, including the arrest of a former cybercrime police chief and two businessmen. According to the Ministry of Public Security, the gambling ring operated two websites, rikvip.com and rikvipvn. From early 2015 until mid-2017, the sites hosted more than 42 million accounts and each player held about three accounts on average.
A raid in March resulted in 83 individuals being arrested. Of that number, 41 were charged with organizing gambling while 38 were charged with gambling. Additional charges included illegally trading invoices and money laundering. Police are still investigating the matter as more information is discovered.