Vietnamese Police Break Up Illegal Online Sports Betting Ring With Ties to Gaming Site Hosted in US

Posted on: September 26, 2018, 02:00h. 

Last updated on: September 26, 2018, 01:21h.

Police in Vietnam have fractured a $26 million online gambling ring, detaining 10 people suspected of being behind the operation.

Vietnam police
Despite being illegal, betting on soccer matches is massively popular in Vietnam. (Image: The Business Times)

Authorities identified the enterprise’s ring leader as Huynh Quoc Viet. The 37-year-old is believed to be the mastermind of the scheme, which started up in July. He allegedly ran a number of different websites which allowed sports betting, in addition other gambling offerings.

“We arrested seven people and three others turned themselves in. The investigation is still ongoing to see if anyone else is involved,” police told AFP News this week.

In addition to the arrests, officials also confiscated several rifles, $20,000 in cash, as well as cars and cell phones. The raids were simultaneously executed across multiple locations in Vietnam’s central and southern provinces.

Loan Sharks and Corrupt Cops

According to major Vietnamese news site VN Express, the perpetrators were organizing millions of dollars’ worth of bets either through Bong88, or websites that were affiliated with Bong88, which is listed as hosted by Redwood Shores, California-based

Hundreds of Vietnamese bettors were believed to have created accounts on the password protected site, which is licensed by a body in the Philippines.

Police charge that in addition to running the sites, the alleged offenders were also offering illegal, high-interest loans to their bettors. And when the punters couldn’t pay up, the house would subsequently use force to collect the debts.

The accused are now facing up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Illegal gambling has been an ongoing problem in the country, and not even authorities tasked with stamping it out have been exempt.

In March, the man who was appointed to crack down on these types of online gambling operations was accused of organizing them instead. Nguyen Thanh Hoa, who was the head of Vietnam’s High Technology Police Department, was arrested in connection with an illegal betting ring believed to be worth more than $400 million.

He’s currently standing trial and faces five to 10 years behind bars.

World Cup Miscalculation

While Vietnam currently has strict anti-gambling laws, things are slowly changing. Earlier this year, the Vietnam National Assembly voted overwhelmingly to pass new law green lighting a pilot program to legalize sports betting in time for the start of 2019.

Meanwhile, officials had laid out an arrangement to allow a limited amount of legal betting to take place during this year’s World Cup tournament.

That plan, however, was a total flop.

Government officials eventually conceded that not a single gaming operator applied for a license to operate for the World Cup, likely because it wasn’t worth it for them to jump through all that regulatory red tape just to offer bets for a two-week event.