Hanoi – Vietnamese police have smashed a huge online betting ring worth around $1.2 billion, state media and an official said on Wednesday, as the government cracks down on illegal gambling during the World Cup.
Twelve people have been arrested across southern Vietnam, including in the business capital Ho Chi Minh City, a police source in Hanoi told AFP. The server for the gambling website was based in Cambodia.
“The raid was part of a central effort to curb illegal gambling, especially when the World Cup is on,” the source said.
Vietnam’s communist government has started loosening its grip on domestic gambling, allowing Vietnamese to bet in casinos and opening up some sports betting.
Online gambling remains banned but lucrative illegal operations have mushroomed, prompting the crackdown during the World Cup period and ahead of the traditional Lunar New Year festival.
According to state media, the newly uncovered gambling ring was formed at the start of 2021 and included online football betting for clients mostly in southern Vietnam.
Gamblers deposited cash into banks in exchange for virtual currency or handed over cash to agents within the network.
On Monday, police in central Nghe An province also arrested 11 people on similar accusations in a separate ring.
The arrests come after Vietnamese police uncovered a cryptocurrency ring worth around $3.8 billion last year.
The ministry of public security warned the public earlier this month not to fall into “illegal traps”, while also vowing harsh punishment for organisers of betting rings.