Vietnam police expose illegal online gambling ring worth $3.8B

  • Police from the Ho Chi Minh City of Vietnam have busted an illegal online gambling ring worth $3.8 billion in gambler’s funds.
  • The gambling sites also engaged in the theft of players’ funds during periods of high user activity. 

Police in Vietnam have busted the largest cryptocurrency-enabled illegal online gambling ring in the country. Based on a report from the state-owned broadcaster VTV, the gambling ring had a pool worth about $3.8 billion. These funds came from gamblers, without the reciprocal money from the dealer. Police from Ho Chi Minh City have now detained 59 people associated with the gambling ring.

Notably, not all kinds of gambling are illegal in Vietnam. The government allows betting in casinos, lotteries, horse and greyhound racing, and some degree of sports betting. But even then, there are still certain conditions and restrictions that participants and organizers have to adhere to. However, online gambling and private card rooms are strictly prohibited in the country. 

Additionally, Vietnamese law does not recognize cryptocurrencies as legal means of payment, assets, or foreign currency. However, there are no restrictions or rules on buying, holding, and trading crypto. In July, the country’s Ministry of Finance established a research group to perform in-depth studies on cryptocurrencies. The results of the same would be used in developing a clearer legislative framework for the industry in the country.

Vietnam authorities raid online gambling ring

The online gambling platform, the report notes, was operating on a large-scale basis, having established itself in several provinces and cities in the country. Organizers would lure players into the gambling sites by showcasing lavish lifestyles including expensive cars, houses and fancy parties. They even offered them insurance packages, promising a refund should they lose six games – a deal that would appear too sweet to an analytical person.

To participate, one had to purchase cryptocurrencies like Ethereum (ETH) or Tether (USDT) from the escrowed peer-to-peer crypto marketplace Remitano. These would enable them to gamble on the websites Swiftonline.live and Nagaclubs.com, which are local branches of the international betting platform Evolution.com.

In addition to operating illegally, the platform organizers would intentionally crash the websites when there was a large number of participants. The downtime gave them the opportunity to steal funds from the players’ crypto wallets.

Already, the suspects have admitted to their role in organizing the online gambling site. Police also seized several items that were used to propagate the online scheme. These include seven luxury cars, 55 laptops and desktop computers, 39 mobile phones, ATM cards and cash worth over 2.9 billion dongs ($130,000).

This is not the first of such busts in Vietnam. Last year, police in Hanoi cracked down a similar site by the name ‘No Hu,’ whose revenues were estimated at a whopping $2.6 billion. The same happened in 2019 with a $1.2 billion online gambling ring.

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