China and Vietnam have earned more results in their war against unauthorized online betting on the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Over the weekend, Chinese state-run media reported that police in the capital Beijing had arrested 46 individuals connected with an illegal betting operation that handled RMB320m (US$48m) worth of World Cup wagers.
The media reports indicated that the gambling ring used social media channels such as WeChat to promote the day’s betting odds. The ringleaders wagered the sums with unspecified internationally licensed betting sites, while local agents collected losses and distributed winnings.
In an attempt to suppress World Cup betting interest, Beijing authorities issued warnings to its citizens claiming that 95% of operators promoting themselves as online betting sites are actually engaged in phishing operations aimed at stealing individuals’ private financial data.
The only expressly legal form of betting in China is the state-run sports lottery, sales of which topped RMB28.6b in the first three weeks of the World Cup, more than twice the sum spent during the entire 2014 tournament. While Beijing will appreciate the extra revenue this provides the national coffers, the authorities are said to be a little squeamish about the surge in wagering’s popularity.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese authorities have made yet another illegal online betting bust, the fourth such result since the World Cup got underway on June 14. Raids were carried out on multiple locations across three provinces on Saturday, resulting in the detention of at least 10 suspects, including the alleged ringleader Nguyen Minh Dat.
The ring, which had reportedly been in operation since 2015, processed its wagers through the Philippines-licensed M88gin.com, an affiliate of the Mansion family of betting sites. Police claimed the ring handled wagers worth VND2t (US$89m) from “thousands” of customers since it began its illicit activities. In addition to the detained individuals, police also seized VND10b ($440k) plus a further US$21k in cash.
Vietnam has been attempting to launch a trial run of legal sports betting, but significant restrictions on wagering spending and the types of sports on which punters can legally wager has so far deterred any betting operator from volunteering to participate in the five-year trial.