Vietnam busts online betting ring as World Cup crackdown looms


vietnam-3in1bet-online-sports-betting-bustAsian nations are ramping up their crackdowns of illegal gambling activity ahead of this summer’s FIFA World Cup betting bonanza.

This week, authorities in Vietnam’s Vinh Phuc province announced the filing of charges against 22 individuals for their association with a betting ring that processed wagers online via the password-protected betting site Six individuals were taken into custody, including the alleged ringleader, Luu Van Nam.

Police said their investigation concluded that the ring had handled wagers worth VND200b (US$8.7m) in the last half of 2017 alone. During their raids, police seized 21 mobile phones, three computers and around VND400m in cash.

The bust follows the much larger bust of a major online gambling operation with ties to the nation’s former top cybercrime cop and a pair of highly successful technology businessmen.

One should expect more reports of this nature to emerge from the Asia-Pacific nations that don’t allow gambling (so, er, all of them?) as the clock counts down to the June 14th kickoff of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Moscow. Every major football tournament results in a tsunami of betting volume for Asian-facing online bookmakers, and the region’s police forces treat these events like their own enforcement Olympics.

For the UEFA Euro 2016 tournament, global cops Interpol teamed with police in eight countries, including China, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. These combined forces staged nearly 4,000 raids and broke up rings than handled nearly $650m in Euro 2016 wagers.

Two years earlier, Interpol teamed with nine countries to target betting on the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The result was 1,400 individuals arrested for involvement in illegal betting rings that handled over $2.2b in wagers.

While China will undoubtedly be part of Interpol’s 2018 campaign, the country needs little assistance when it comes to banging up illegal gambling operators. Last week, the Ministry of Public Security announced that it had handled over 280k gambling cases in 2017, including some major cross-border operations that resulted in the arrests of 5,300 suspects and the seizure of RMB 6b ($956m).