Fifty six people involved in an illegal online gambling ring in Vietnam were ordered to serve prison time ranging from nine months to eight years.
The People’s Court in Ho Chi Minh City handed down the sentences on Tuesday, media outlet Vietnam News reported.
Eight others were also ordered to pay a fine between VND 30-50 million ($1,300-$2,200) for gambling.
Vuong Chan Thanh, who authorities said led the gambling ring, was sentenced to spend eight years in jail.
Vietnamese authorities arrested Thanh in 2013, along with his wife, Dam Kim Khuyen, and five others on charges of organized gambling.
Investigators said Thanh, who was then the director of Vien Tin International Telecommunication Ltd. Co., had his relatives and employees open a total of 55 bank accounts that will receive and transfer earnings from gambling operations via the Philippine-licensed 188Bet. The ring allegedly handled wagers of over VND 400 billion ($17.7 million) between 2011 and their arrest two years ago.
The ring began to operate in 2010 through 188Bet. Members posed as employees of telecom equipment companies, and most of the money transfers were made in the form of Internet banking through local banks.
188Bet is an Asian-facing website that acts as the official betting partner for UK Premier League clubs Manchester City and Liverpool. The website’s server is located in the Philippines and has been in operation since 2005, according to Tuoitrenews.
South Korean running illegal football betting site busted
Meanwhile, Vietnam police caught a South Korean man running an illegal online football betting ring in Ho Chi Minh City on Aug. 26.
According to a Tuoitrenews report, 32-year-old Lee Won Il set up a website that serves the online football betting activities of other South Koreans. Lee gets a commission of 10 percent for each wager, which is transferred to his bank account in South Korea.
Three days later, police discovered 13 South Koreans staying in an apartment in the city. The foreigners, who do not have temporary residence registrations, were believed to be betting on the website that Lee ran.
Vietnam has outlawed the “social evil” of gambling in 1948. The country is currently weighing a proposal that will increase the severity of punishments on gambling activities. Gamblers caught wagering stakes over VND 2 million (US$ 88) will face a minimum of three months’ jail time under the present Penal Code.