Vietnam’s neverending war against illegal online gambling opened yet another chapter this week with the dismantling of an illegal operation based in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).
On Thursday, Vietnamese media reported that nearly 100 agents of the Ministry of Public Security had staged raids at 10 different locations across HCMC earlier this week, arresting 11 individuals suspected of involvement in an illegal gambling operation tied to the Bóng88 and SBObet gambling sites.
Those under arrest include one Nguyen Hoang Long, who police fingered as the suspected ringleader of the gambling operation. In late-2017, Long reportedly opened a number of front companies to handle the ring’s financial transactions, the value of which police estimated at anywhere from VND3t (US$130m) all the way up to VND10t.
Long reportedly oversaw an operation that involved “dozens” of agents, sub-agents and technicians, and police claim to be hot on the trail of several individuals suspected of involvement. Long reportedly took a 70% cut of the operation’s betting proceeds, while an unidentified partner claimed the rest.
Among the venues raided this week were a local bank, from which police confiscated VND4b in cash connected to Long, while raids on other venues resulted in the seizure of luxury cars and tools of the digital gambling trade.
Bóng88, which is licensed by the Philippines’ First Cagayan Leisure & Resort Corporation, is a popular site for Vietnam’s gamblers, and this site contains numerous articles detailing local authorities’ efforts to arrest agents acting as financial middlemen for the site and its Vietnamese clientele.
SBObet is an international betting giant with licenses in numerous jurisdictions, including diplomas issued by the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission and the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation.
Vietnam has a legal sports betting option available to its citizens, but strict daily spending limits, an equally limited palette of sports on which to wager and the lack of online or mobile betting options has prevented this legal channel from gaining much traction with local punters.