An online gambling ring that handled nearly $26m in bets has been brought to heel by authorities in Vietnam.
On Tuesday, Vietnamese media reported that police in the central region of the country had arrested at least 10 individuals suspected of involvement in an online operation offering sports betting and other forms of illegal gambling to hundreds of local customers.
According to police, the gambling operation had been in business since at least July, during which time it attracted hundreds of clients across several provinces who wagered a combined VND600b (US$25.7m). These wagers were placed via several password-protected websites, including one identified as affiliated with Bóng88, before the authorities brought their hammer down.
Bóng88, which some reports identified as being based in the US but which is actually licensed by the Philippines’ First Cagayan Leisure & Resort Corporation, is a popular wagering choice with Vietnamese gamblers, having been cited in numerous Vietnamese police actions over the years.
In addition to gambling services, the gang reportedly also acted as freelance muscle to collect debts. Following their raids on the gang’s operations, police reported seizing some firearms along with the standard computers, phones and cash hoards.
The arrested individuals now face prison sentences of up to 10 years, and local courts traditionally aim for the higher end of that range. Case in point: earlier this month, a Ho Chi Minh City court sentenced the ringleader of a different online gambling ring to nine years in prison, while his three senior accomplices received sentences of between five to seven years.
That ring placed wagers through three Philippines-based websites – Vwin.com, W88.com and Fun88.com – for a client list that was said to number in the thousands.
Vietnam has made tentative steps toward relaxing its ban on sports betting, although the government is reportedly having trouble finding companies to volunteer to run the pilot program, in part due to major restrictions on which football leagues wagers will be permitted and onerous limits on the amount individuals can wager during a single day.