By Fiona Simmons
Any lack of legal options strongly incentivizes the potential for illegal ones to appear, the recent developments in Vietnam proved, where the police in Hanoi has made a second major illegal gambling bust for the month. Having cracked on a gambling ring at the beginning of May estimated to have transacted in the region of $858 million since January 2019, the police now busted another one, allegedly worth of $2.77 billion in transactions.
For the Slot Gamers
A crackdown force comprising of Hanoi police’s crime unit and the Ministry of Public Security’s hi-tech crime department arrested 37-year-old Truong Ngoc Tu, the mastermind behind the illegal gambling ring, as well as his 15 other accomplices.
Tu and the others were running an online gambling game that resembled slot machines, that users were getting access to by downloading the app to their mobile phones or playing online through a web browser. Despite playing with virtual points, these were given only after deposits through a network of agents were made. The agents were also used to cash out winnings at the end of the games.
Tu and his accomplices, all of who close friends, relatives or IT experts were instructing potential players how to deposit and withdraw and were charging 2% for that. The servers of the illegal operations were placed outside of the country to evade local authorities, and the gambling ring was estimated to have attracted millions of players since beginning operations in 2018 and transacted $2.77 billion.
Poker and Lottery
Earlier in May, the police in Hanoi and Saigon busted another illegal gambling ring, worth $858 million, and arrested 21 people for their involvement. 28-year-old Nguen Thi Huong Ly and 24-year-old Nguen Duc Manh were allegedly running the operations, using out-of-the-country web server to host their gambling website and local residents as agents to channel players. Gambling was disguised under virtual games of poker and lottery.
Ly’s function was to create clients’ accounts on the website where potential players would need to perform the transactions, and together with Manh to guide potential gamblers how to use their personal bank accounts to transfer the money and play the games on offer.
Local residents in Vietnam were used as agents for the group, serving as intermediaries to channel locals towards the gambling operations by contacting them through social media and by phone.
Agents were also providing clients with bank accounts for the money transfers, where players were sending money directly or by using top-up cards. Agents were used as cash out points for the winnings, as well as for loan extension facilities against collateral placed by customers.
Online Gambling Still Illegal
Despite easing a bit legislative-wise in 2017, when sports betting was legalized, as well as people above 21 and having a certain minimum of monthly income being allowed to play in a local casino, all other forms of gambling in Vietnam are still outside of the law.
The police did not provide details whether both cases were connected, which may very well be the case having in mind the similarities in organizational structure and approach.