BUSINESS

Vietnam ramps up football betting busts; losing bettors crowding China’s rooftops

TAGs: 2014 FIFA World Cup, China, guangdong, Shanghai, sports betting, Vietnam

china-vietnam-m88-sports-bettingThe 2014 FIFA World Cup may be winding down but the volume of betting busts by Asian authorities shows no sign of letting up. Police in Vietnam got off to an unusually slow start but have really ramped up their efforts in the past week. On July 3, police in Ho Chi Minh City arrested six individuals, four of whom were organizers of a football betting operation that processed up to VND 1.4t (US $66m) in wagers via online betting site M88.com since setting up shop in February.

The Philippines-based M88 was cited as the primary wagering conduit for another ring broken up in January 2013, which resulted in charges being filed against 59 individuals last month. Police described M88 as the number one betting site operating in Vietnam, with agents located in almost every city and province. Vietnam has issued a formal warning to the site, reminding it that sports betting is illegal in Vietnam. Major General Ho Sy Tien also warned the site’s clients that police had obtained documentation revealing “thousands” of bettors’ identities and therefore urged them to “present themselves to police soon to be given clemency.”

In Hanoi, police arrested nine individuals connected to a different online betting ring. The group is believed to have handled up to VND 8b ($376k) in football wagers via a password-protected betting site, bóng88.com. Vietnam also deported 33 South Korean nationals who had established an online betting service in the country that primarily served gamblers in their home country. The individuals were fined before being given the boot. Since the World Cup began, Vietnam has uncovered 112 illegal gambling cases and arrested 752 individuals.

Shifting to China, police in Shanghai have arrested 32 individuals connected to an online betting ring following a four-month investigation. Police have fingered three of those in custody as acting as agents for unspecified international online betting sites since last year. Police also froze 12 bank accounts containing RMB 2.4m ($387k) in wagering funds.

In Guangdong, some 68 individuals were sentenced last week for their roles in an online betting ring that reportedly handled a staggering RMB 484b ($78b) in wagers between March 2008 and April 2013. The individual sentences ranged from 17 months for lesser minions, while top organizers like Zeng Jincheng were given nine years in prison and fined RMB 20m ($3.2m).

Lurid media reports of distraught bettors pitching themselves off rooftops after backing the wrong side in World Cup matches have sparked gallows’ humor among China’s netizens. Following the untimely eliminations of Spain and Portugal, Bloomberg quoted one microblogger noting that the roof of his building was unusually crowded. Better than telling your parents you’ve been kidnapped and sold into prostitution in a bid to get them to cover your betting losses, we guess.

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