Police in Vietnam have shut down a massive illegal casino near Hanoi, detaining over 100 gamblers and confiscating 5.5b dong (US $264k). Regional top cop Col. Ho Si Tien told the state-run Thahn Nien newspaper the gambling den in Bac Ninh province was the largest of its kind operating in northern Vietnam. Over 200 police participated in the raid, which Vietnam Net reported involved a half-hour “siege” of the Tuan Son Hotel in Dinh Bang Ward, Tu Son Town. The police managed to overcome the local guards, break through a glass door on the first floor and race to the fourth floor where the action was taking place. The punters were reportedly wagering on xoc dia (a game in which four color-coded coin-like chips are shaken in a bowl – see video below).
The police investigation of the den reportedly took several months. The gambling ring’s organizers took pains to avoid getting caught, including running their own shuttle service. Punters would assemble in a parking lot, where they’d be collected and ferried to their destination in vans decorated to look like a wedding party. (Many women were reportedly among those detained.) The den’s location reportedly changed every day in an (ultimately futile) attempt to avoid suspicion.
TuoiTre News reported that 48-year-old ringleader Duong Anh Duc confessed to running operations like this in other provinces, charging punters a VND500k-VND1m ($24-$48) cover at the door. It seems he originally planned to use a different warehouse location on the day but reportedly changed his mind due to the cold weather. Bloody weather… (Moral of the story: never demonstrate concern for your customers’ well-being.) There are legal places to gamble in Vietnam – and more are being built, albeit somewhat fitfully – but locals are not welcome.
VIETNAM TO ISSUE LOTTERY TENDER
If risking arrest isn’t your thing, there’s always the lottery. Vietnam’s government wants to jumpstart its fledgling national lottery by finding revenue-sharing partners to provide hardware and software for the state-owned Vietnam Lottery Company. A request for proposals will be issued at some point over the next three months, but it will be an invitation-only affair and the scope of the contract has yet to be finalized. Casinos Austria adviser Richard Lehrner told GamblingCompliance that besides ticket terminals, the Vietnamese were also considering offering mobile sales. Video lottery terminals, on the other hand, have been definitely ruled out.
The government has previously mused about launching some kind of sports betting scheme to take advantage of the country’s footie fanatics, but it’s not clear whether a sports lottery will be on the menu. The lottery plans to start operating in 10 cities next year, expanding nationwide by 2014. Lerner believes the eagerness to get the lottery up and running is partially designed to distract attention from the government’s controversial draft gaming law, which retains the no-locals restriction that (a) pisses off the nation’s punters and (b) represents a deal-breaker with international casino operators interested in setting up shop in Vietnam.
Anyway, enough of our yakking. Shake the bowl already…