Six arrested in Vietnam over online betting ring

Hanoi: Six people have been arrested in Vietnam for running an online betting ring based on a server in the Philippines that had attracted thousands of gamblers, state media reported Monday. The arrests came as authorities across Southeast Asia were on high alert for a betting spike linked to the ongoing World Cup, and followed a raid in Vietnam on an online football gambling operation last month.

The M88 ring “involved thousands of gamblers across the country” who collectively gambled up to $87 million since 2015, Ministry of Public Security spokesman Cong An Nhan Dan said in the report. “Its website is on a server based in the Philippines, (operates) in different languages and covered all sorts of gambling.”

The report said the operation covered sports, although it did not state if the ring was involved in running World Cup bets.

Police arrested six Vietnamese people during raids in several cities across the country last week, confiscating three cars and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, according to the report.

It did not give any further details on the extent of the gambling ring’s operations in the Philippines.

Gambling is illegal in Vietnam apart from the state-run lottery and a few casinos which are only open to foreigners.

Betting or running illegal betting operations carries a maximum jail term of 10 years.

But the law is widely flouted, especially during top-tier sport competitions, when many punters head online or to illegal gambling dens to try their luck.

The government last year announced a pilot program that would allow citizens over the age of 21 with a monthly income of at least $430 to gamble in local casinos. The move has yet to be implemented.