Vietnam Deports 35 Chinese Nationals For Running Online Gambling Ring

Posted on: June 10, 2019, 01:24h. 

Last updated on: June 10, 2019, 01:28h.

Police in Vietnam’s third-largest city of Da Nang broke up an illegal online gambling ring late last week, resulting in the deportation of 35 Chinese nationals. Among the deportees were four women.

Police in Vietnam (seen here during Trump’s February visit to Hanoi to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jung Un) have busted an extensive online gambling ring that included dozens of Chinese nationals. (Image: Jorge Silva/Reuters)

Last Thursday, authorities in Da Nang raided six properties after receiving tips, where they also arrested unspecified numbers of Vietnamese workers implicated in the online bust.

Trying to Fly Under the Radar

Members of the Chinese group confirmed to local authorities that they are part of a broader organization which they declined to identify. The arrestees told Vietnamese law enforcement that they’d been instructed to build an online gambling ring in the Southeast Asian nation, with the goal of avoiding detection by Chinese police and regulators.

Apparently the alleged culprits failed at that mission, as Da Nang police delivered the Chinese citizens to their counterparts at the Mong Cai border over the weekend. North Vietnam shares a border with China.

Pattern of Arrests

The deportation comes less than two weeks after police in Vietnam’s Thanh Hoa province disrupted an illicit online gambling group there as well. Nine arrests were made as the result of that crackdown.

The Thanh Hoa consortium was sophisticated in that its patrons used cash to buy virtual money for use at its web-based casinos. Media reports say the Thanh Hoa operation had transactions of $170 million and that authorities there froze $256,000 from suspects’ bank accounts of those believed to be involved in the group.

In April, Vietnamese police raided another illegal online gambling group that reportedly generated revenue of $1 billion, resulting in 22 arrests.

Vietnam’s Gaming Big Picture

Vietnam’s stance on casino gaming has been liberalized in recent years, but the country still prohibits online wagering.

The country is home to just a handful of casinos, though some operators are mulling expansion there.

Until 2017, Vietnamese citizens were not allowed to enter the country’s gaming properties. Those restrictions have now eased slightly, but locals must prove they are 21 years old and that they make at least $445 per month to enter. Sports betting was also legalized in Vietnam in 2017.

The $4 billion Corona Casino on Phu Quoc Island is the sole Vietnamese gaming property open to locals. That property, which opened in January, has 1,000 slot machines and 100 table games.

While country’s casino gaming industry is small ($1.2 billion in revenue in 2018) compared to hubs such as Macau and Las Vegas, there is potential for growth due to a booming tourism industry. Travelers to Vietnam generated revenue of $26.75 billion last year, up $4.75 billion from 2017. And more than 15.5 million international travelers visited the country in 2018, a number that’s tripled when compared to 2010.

In an effort to lure more foreign tourists, Vietnam recently relaxed its formerly stricter visa policy by allowing travelers from 46 other countries to stay there for a month with a single entry electronic visa.

That policy is in effect until 2021 and pertains to American, Japanese, and Chinese visitors, among others.