Vietnam’s crackdown on illegal gambling rings continue, and they put a stop to two major operations recently. More than 30 have been arrested or brought in for questions for two online gambling rings, VNExpress reports.
Police arrested 19 in the northern province of Hung Yen on May 23, shutting down an operation that had over 100 bookmakers and volume worth VND2 trillion ($86 million). The alleged leader of the operation, Pham Cong Bang, was 29 years old, with three accomplices operating out of a rented house in Thai Binh province.
They didn’t run their own site, that would be too easy to catch. Instead, they opened sites with international gambling sites and acted as brokers for locals who wanted to make bets.
In another raid on the same day, police in Hai Duong announced they were investigating 16 people for gambling crimes. Their operation is a bit different, using software provided by the suspects to play online dice and card games for tokens which can be sold for cash. Police suspect the opation is worth VND 1 trillion ($43 million).
This continues the Vietnamese crack down on online gambling, which remains illegal in the country. In April, police arrested 22 and seized hundreds of devices associated with the Fun88 brand. That operation, which mirrored the Philippines-licensed gambling site of the same name, was worth a reported $1.2 billion.
Despite online gambling being illegal, casinos are still legal in the country. Hoiana resort, operated by the Suncity group and located in Quang Nam province, is set to open in 2019. Corona casino, operated by Upffinity and located in Phu Quoc, opened in January and has been permitted to accept locals for gambling.
That’s made possible by a three-year trial the government has created to allow hand-picked casinos to cater to locals. That’s could be an exciting aspect for many Vietnamese, who previously haven’t had many legal options.
Phu Quoc is still very far for most though, located distantly from the major cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. With the majority of the population unable to travel so far to satisfy their gambling urges, police are likely to have a few more illegal online operations to contend with until more options are created.