Vietnamese authorities have handed down stiff sentences for those 59 individuals connected with online gambling site M88.com.
On Tuesday, a Ho Chi Minh City court sentenced 52 defendants to lengthy stints in prison, while seven other defendants received suspended sentences. The 59 defendants were caught up in the January 2013 bust of a ring tied to the Philippines-licensed M88, which Vietnamese authorities have dubbed the country’s most popular online betting site.
Amazingly, only six of the accused were agents working on behalf of M88, while the rest were simply gamblers whose names were found in the agents’ files. The agents were convicted of ‘organizing gambling’ and handed sentences ranging from two to seven years along with fines of up to VND 50m (US $2,300). The site’s main agent in Vietnam, Nguyen Vo Hoai Tram, remains at large.
As for those 46 gamblers, they received sentences ranging from one-and-a-half to four years in prison simply for placing wagers. Among those receiving four-year sentences was Dao Ngoc Quy, who wagered VND 8.8b ($404k) on football, losing VND 6b to the site. The gamblers were also fined between VND 5m to 30m apiece.
SHANGHAI HIGH ROLLER PARTY OVER
Over in Shanghai, eight people were detained earlier this month after police broke up a private high-stakes poker den. Police said the organizers hosted up to 20 “gambling parties” per month in an apartment in the city’s Lujiazui business district, which catered to young professionals with an interest in poker. The organizers reportedly earned RMB 4m ($645k) in profits in the month preceding the bust.
SOUTH KOREAN SOAP OPERA LEADS TO ILLEGAL CASINO BUST
Down in China’s ‘renegade province’ of Taiwan, police in Tapei’s Tamsui district busted an illegal mahjong casino, which was also run out of an apartment building. In charge of the den was a 54-year-old woman named Lin, who’d rented the apartment a few months earlier. Police said the casino operated around the clock, catering to “blue-collar workers and housewives.”
Police became suspicious after noticing surveillance cameras at the apartment entrance. Lin was supposed to be monitoring these cameras to ascertain whether the heat was on, but at the moment that the police were assembling outside the door, she was reportedly distracted by a particularly gripping storyline on a South Korean soap opera.
Police arrested Lin and 12 gamblers who were inside at the time of the raid. The gamblers, who were each fined NT 9k ($295), reportedly groused over the fact that Lin “did not do her job in watching out for the police.” Or maybe, just maybe, ‘Lin’ was in fact her long-long evil twin, who had been declared dead after going missing seven years earlier while on a top secret mission for the government. Tune in tomorrow to find out.