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$13M online gambling bust lands 28 Vietnamese in trouble

TAGs: Ho Chi Minh City, illegal online gambling, Jasmine Solana, Pham Xuan Thuong, Vietnam

$13M online gambling bust lands 28 Vietnamese in troubleVietnamese authorities are on a roll.

Last week, 56 people involved in an illegal online gambling ring were sentenced by the People’s Court in Ho Chi Minh City to spend between nine months to eight years in jail. This time, more than two dozen people also found themselves in deep criminal trouble with Vietnamese authorities.

Charges were filed against 28 people who prosecutors said were involved in an online gambling ring that amassed $13 million in bet money, media outlet Thanh Nien News reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, 38-year-old Pham Huy Toan—the alleged ringleader—possessed 58 bank accounts that he used to receive more than VND 301 billion ($13.3 million) of bet money from local players, which include doctors, students, and even government officials.

Prosecutors said Toan sent the money to a gambling website hosted in the UK. He was paid nearly VND 727 million ($32,336) between March 2013 and July 2014 for his work as middleman.

Toan faces charges of organizing gambling activities, while the remaining 27 will stand trial on gambling charges.

Vietnam is currently deliberating on allowing harsher punishments for illegal gambling, an activity it has outlawed in 1948.

Under the existing Penal Code, people caught gambling over VND 2 million ($88) face a minimum of three months jail time. The new plan, however, will boost the wagering stakes threshold to VND 5 million ($222) and will also raise the minimum prison sentence to one year.

But some lawmakers believe that it’s time for the government to rethink its “social evil” stance on gambling. Thai Binh representative Pham Xuan Thuong even suggested that it would be better to “organize gambling activities in a more sensible and manageable way.”

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