Vietnam Police Shut Down $130m Online Gambling Operation

  • 1,566 online gambling accounts were used by two illegal rings
  • Police made 11 arrests, including the suspected leader of the operation
  • Rings ran for seven months and saw $21.6m in gambling money monthly
  • This is the latest in a string of major illegal gambling ring busts by Vietnamese authorities
two Vietnamese police officers
Police in Vietnam have shut down a $130m illegal gambling operation in the Ha Tinh province and made eleven arrests. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Authorities cracking down on illegalities

Police in Vietnam have shut down an online sports betting operation that has handled $130m. The discovery took place in May in the Ha Tinh province, revealing two online rings being operated by the same gang. 

1,566 accounts were being used as part of these operations. About one-third of these were for bettors, while the rest were for handling admin activities.

The Ministry of Public Security was working closely with police forces from five regions on this major investigation. The forces were based in Ho Chi Minh City, Phu Yen, Binh Dinh, Khanh Hoa, and Ha Tinh.

Results of the investigation

The Vietnamese authorities made eleven arrests as part of this investigation, which included the suspected leader of the two illegal gambling rings.

They then began a criminal probe to see how the rings operated and determine how the gang had escaped the authorities’ attention for so long. 

By the time of their closure, the rings had processed transactions worth about $130m

In total, the two rings were active for about seven months, beginning in October 2018. On average, they saw a combined $21.6m in gambling money each month. By the time of their closure, the rings had processed transactions worth about $130m. 

A total of 45 people are now under investigation following the illegal operation bust. 29 of these individuals are gambling organizers, while 16 of them are bettors. 

Sports betting in Vietnam

Vietnam has traditionally been very much anti-gambling. However, with a lot of nearby nations such as Cambodia benefiting nicely from gambling, laws have started to be eased in Vietnam. 

Sports betting became legal in 2017, and locals with a set minimum monthly income are now legally able to play in certain casinos in the country. All other types of gambling are still considered unlawful.

Other significant gambling busts

The authorities in Vietnam have been working hard to target illegal gambling rings recently. One such operation was handling more than $420m worth of funds. It was shut down in March 2018 and saw more than 90 people arrested. 

A government official was among those arrested as a result of the investigation. Dang Anh Tuan was the chief inspector of Vietnam’s information ministry. Evidence suggested he was helping the leaders of this ring, including by trying to stop the police from investigating the ring’s activities. Two other senior government officials were also detained as part of this operation.

July 2019 saw a crackdown on another illegal gambling operation in Vietnam. This time, the exposure of a ring which handled more than $435m in gambling funds led to 380 arrests. 

The majority of those arrested were Chinese nationals who were running online gambling platforms from one of the country’s major port cities, Hai Phong. During the raid, there were nearly 2,000 smart phones and 533 laptops seized. 

Another September bust

There was another gambling ring busted this month. This time, it was a Vietnamese-Cambodian gambling ring worth in the region of $43.1m. There were nine unidentified people arrested as part of this operation across Vietnam.

The investigations team can trace the origins of this gambling ring back to casinos in Cambodia. Vietnamese people who worked for these casinos in 2015 have since been working alongside gambling ring leaders from Cambodia to set up this illegal gambling operation. 

The illegal online site they were operating was called Winxxx and was found to target Vietnamese residents. It offered different forms of online sports betting.