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Illegal gambling ring busted in Vietnam

Mon, Apr 29, 12:15pm by Staff Writer

Police in Vietnam broke up an online gambling ring that had handled more than $1 billion in bets and arrested 22 people, according to Yahoo News.

It is believed to be the largest-ever internet betting operating in the communist country.

Many forms of gambling are illegal for locals in Vietnam, but black market betting flourishes, especially on sports.

Massive raids in cities and provinces across the country last week came after the discovery of hundreds of thousands of accounts tied to a ring processing an estimated $1.28 billion in funds, state run Thanh Nien newspaper said.

The gambling ring was operated in a “sophisticated manner that had been so difficult to detect,” the report said, citing police sources.

It explained that gamblers who visited the website were asked to deposit cash into banks in exchange for virtual money in coded accounts, mostly for football betting.

The accused hid the scope of the funds b using bank accounts with small amounts of money to conduct transactions.

So far a total of 22 people have been arrested, including 12 organisers, police said.

Authorities declined to comment when asked for additional details.

The one-party state has started loosening its rules on domestic gambling, allowing Vietnamese people to bet in casinos on a trial basis and opening up some sports betting.

But lucrative illegal operations have mushroomed, prompting a crackdown.

Last year, 91 people – several of them high-ranking police officials – were either jailed or ordered to pay fines for their links with a gambling ring that handled $420 million in wagers.

Among those imprisoned was a former head of the “high-technology department” in charge of policing online gambling at the powerful Ministry of Public Security.

Investigations from that case are ongoing.

A former chief inspector at the Ministry of Information and Communication was arrested in Hanoi on Thursday for failing to spot illicit activity in the $420-million ring.

The communist party headed by conservative leader Nguyen Phu Trong has carried out an unprecedented anti-graft campaign nationwide.

Dozens of executives alongside former and current officials have been jailed while harassment of activists has mounted.

Vietnam’s first casino for locals opens

The first casino that allows Vietnamese citizens to gamble has opened on Phu Quoc, the country’s largest island.

The Corona Resort and Casino has gone live and boasts a 30,000 square-metre casino floor with more than 200 gaming tables and well over 2,000 poker machines.

The complex features 2,000 five-star hotel rooms, 10 coastal villas, a convention centre, theatre, shopping mall, water park, spa, restaurants, bar and 18-hole golf course.

Daily casino operations will be overseen by Upffinity Gaming Management, a casino management firm of the Netherlands.

Upfinnity CEO Daniel Kupsin said Vietnam has an increasing number of domestic and international tourists, who have high demands for high-end hotels and entertainment services.

Phu Quoc Tourism Investment and Development Jsc has built the property and is part owned by the country’s largest conglomerate Vingroup.

Locals will be permitted onto the gaming floors for the first time in Vietnam with this new casino adding to its seven existing casinos, mostly at the country’s borders catering for foreign tourists.

Under a new government-endorsed programme, the Phu Quoc casino will allow locals to enter and gamble during a three-year trial period.

This will allow local lawmakers to determine whether residents should be allowed to gamble at local casinos permanently.

Only people aged 21 or over are able to gamble on the gaming floor.

There is an entry fee of VND1 million (US$43) to enter, while a monthly pass costs VND25 million (US$1,000).

The casino will be open 24/7 during the three-year trial period. Vietnamese passport holders will be allowed to gamble only if their minimum monthly income is VND10 million (US$430) or more and have no history of criminal offenses.

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