Members of an illegal gambling ring connected to one of the world’s largest online betting sites M88 have been subjected to rigid sentences in Vietnam, this Friday. 30 individual got jail terms by a court in Ho Chi Minh City, while 14 others got suspended sentences who were responsible for placing sports wagers with the gang.
Leader of the gang, Tran Hau Chi, was absent in court during Friday’s hearing. Though he succeeded in escaping the police, his son, 27-year-old Tran Long Thanh could not and received nine years in prison. The father-and-son duo is the two major representatives of the gang.
Ten junior gang members, who assisted the ring transfer money between the site and 22 bank accounts, got sentences from one year up to seven years. Before the authorities arrested the members in 2014, the ring is alleged to move VD 1.4t (US $62m) to M88 from April 2013 to September 2014. 19 gamblers, whose wagering activities were excessive, were sentenced to as much as 2.5 years. Transactions are said to involve mainly football betting.
Online betting site M88 is licensed in the Phillippines, and is said to be the most popular one in the Vietnamese market. 59 members of a different ring, that was also one of M88 betting site affiliates, received sentences by the same court in May.
Legislators are considering the relaxation of Vietnam’s ban on sports betting by introducing a state-run betting regime. Nguyen Tan Dung, the Prime Minister, instructed the Ministry of Finance in August to re-modify the draft legislation for setting up the specific types of wagers that might be permissible under such a system.
The police are not agitated by sports betting issues solely, though. Ho Chi Minh City police arrested 14 people in early November for operating an illegal numbers racket that had been active since April 2014. The game they used to run is called So De, based on the official state lottery where bettors can wager any amount to their liking with potential payoffs 70 times as much as their original stake.
The ring was very cautious, though a little old-fashioned, in avoiding police detection. It only accepted wagers from its betting agents via fax machine to its headquarters. However, police seized $134k in cash and several ounces of gold by raiding nine different locations in Ho Chi Minh City.