Vietnam Police Dismantle $2.6bn Illegal Gambling Ring

  • $2.6bn revenue estimate makes the bust the biggest raid of its kind in Vietnam
  • Police arrested 16 people and seized mobile phones, SIM cards, and ATM cards
  • The “No Hu” site had millions of account registrations
Vietnamese police officers
Police in Vietnam dismantled a $2.6bn illegal online gambling ring on Friday, arresting 16 people. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Historic illegal gambling bust

Police in Vietnam have taken down an online card gambling ring valued at an estimated $2.6bn. If this estimate is accurate, it would be the largest raid of its kind in the country where most gambling is illegal but still massively popular on the black market. 

After local police conducted a number of raids in Hanoi, 16 locals were arrested. Mobile phones, SIM cards, and ATM cards were seized. There is no indication as to how the site’s revenues were used by the ring leaders.

The workings of the operation

The online gambling site was called “No Hu,” which roughly translates to “break the jar” in English. It was very popular in Vietnam via both mobile devices and desktop computers. 

To play on the site, gamblers would purchase credit from agents and use that credit to gamble online. If a player won, they would receive cash directly from the agents. If someone repeatedly lost, the agents would extend credit loans, accepting collateral such as vehicles. 

Monthly transactions regularly reached $110m

Hundreds of agents for No Hu operated in the Vietnamese capital of Hanoi, according to a May 29 report in the Hanoi police force’s official newspaper, An Ninh Thu Do.

Over the course of its operation, millions of players registered accounts on the site. Monthly transactions regularly reached $110m. No Hu had been active since 2018 before being deactivated following the raids on Friday.

Cracking down on illegal gambling

There are very strict laws – in place for decades – banning most forms of gambling in Vietnam. In recent years, however, the government has loosened gambling restrictions slightly. Vietnamese locals are now able, on a trial basis, to gamble in local casinos that were previously reserved for tourists. Some forms of sports betting have also been legalized. Online gambling and private card rooms are still banned.

The country is still rife with black market gambling operations. The authorities have dismantled some high-profile rings recently, including a bust of a $436m enterprise in 2019 in which 380 arrests were made.

Just a few weeks ago, local police took down an illegal online gambling ring valued at $858m, arresting 21 people.