Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security has arrested seven members of what it’s referring to as a “transnational gambling ring” connected to the M88.com online gambling site. TuoiTreNews reported that five of the seven arrested individuals were from Ho Chi Minh City, while the others were detained in Hanoi. Ten other individuals have been brought in for questioning. Police confiscated laptops, mobile phones, ATM cards and around VND 600m (US $28.8k) in cash. Col. Ho Sy Tien, chief of the Police Department for High-Tech Crime Prevention and Control, said the operation has been under investigation for three years. VietnamNet quoted authorities saying the operation handled hundreds of billions of dong (tens of millions of US dollars) in wagers every day.
The Vietnamese locals reportedly utilized online site M88.com to process their wagers. Like virtually all Asian-facing online operators, M88 operates under a license issued by the Cagayan Economic Zone Authority in the Philippines. The police noted that M88’s website lists several prominent Vietnamese banks at which punters were encouraged to open accounts to facilitate transfers to and from the site. M88 also offered its Vietnamese customers the option of wagering by telephone.
Over in Malaysia, the police in the eastern state of Sarawak are fretting about the locals daring to enjoy online gambling via sites based in Taiwan, Hong Kong, China and Macau. The police chief in the town of Sibu, who claimed to have “totally crushed” the cyber gambling cafés that had been operating under his nose, now tells the Borneo Post his officers are conducting daily surveillance to ensure those outlets remain closed. “We shall not only nab the operators and their workers, we shall also arrest the customers, like what we did last year. I assure we shall not give them space to breathe.”
In a bid to give such policing efforts fresh momentum, Malaysian politicians are claiming the goals of the nation’s one-year-old minimum wage policy can’t be realized if people don’t stop spending their extra take-home pay on online gambling. The Star quoted Oscar Ling, special adviser to MP Wong Ho Leng, claiming that local businesses have actually seen trade slow down as a direct result of illegal gambling hoovering up all the excess cash produced by workers’ increased pay packets. Pressed to back up his claim with evidence, Ling pointed off into the distance, yelled “Oh my God! Locusts!” then immediately turned and fled in the opposite direction. Or so we imagine.