Vietnamese authorities have broken up an illegal online gambling ring they claim handled wagers worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
On Thursday, local media outlets reported the arrest of Nguyen Thi Kheo, a 34-year-old vice-director of Ho Chi Minh City-based software firm Asian Livetech. Kheo and a number of other individuals are accused of operating online gambling site ibet789.com.
Police reported seizing numerous computers, servers and documents at the company’s offices and at Kheo’s home. Searches are reportedly also going on at the company’s affiliated offices in Hanoi. Ibet789.com’s website remains active, and includes a Vietnamese language option and toll-free number among its various country-specific offerings.
Vietnamese police reportedly launched their investigation into the site’s local connections five months ago, but they claimed the ibet789 site has been illegally serving Vietnamese punters through a network of local field agents for the past seven years.
While the Vietnamese media reports identified Kheo’s company as Asian Livetech, they are likely referring to Dragon City International subsidiary Asia Live Tech, which has been providing white label online gambling technology solutions for land-based gaming operators since 2011.
Ibet789, which offers sports betting and lotteries as well as RNG and live casino options, claims to hold a sports betting license issued by Cambodian authorities. ibet789 is the online arm of the Lucky89 Casino & Resort in Cambodia’s Svay Rieng province on the border with Vietnam.
In February, Vietnam announced plans to relax its longstanding prohibition on sports betting, although critics have expressed doubt as to the program chances of eradicating illegal betting, as there will be no legal online wagering and punters will be subject to daily wagering limits of just VND 1m (US $45).
In the meantime, Vietnamese authorities continue to target online betting operators, including a bust in Nghe An province last month. In March, 64 local agents of online gambling operator Dafabet received sentences ranging from nine months to three years in prison.