Gambling Tsar among Officials Jailed in $420 Million Vietnamese Gambling Ring

Gambling Tsar among Officials Jailed in $420 Million Vietnamese Gambling Ring

Dozens of individuals, including two former police officers, were recently convicted in a gambling ring in Vietnam. $420 million was spent in online gambling. The ring was run by the official who was in charge of regulating internet gambling.

The gambling racket is the biggest online betting ring ever busted in Vietnam, which is a communist country. Most forms of gambling are banned for citizens. However, the online gambling black market continues to be lucrative.

The Trial

After a three-week trial in the Phu Tho province, guarded by hundreds of police officers, 91 people received sentences. Some of the individuals were sentenced to jail time. Others received house arrest or had to pay fines.

Nguyen Thanh Hoa received the harshest sentence. Hoa, 60, is a former head of the high-technology department at the Ministry of Public Security.

Hoa was sentenced to 10 years in jail for abusing power while performing official duty, according to the Vietnam News Agency.

Before Hoa was arrested in March, the former official had earned a reputation for being extremely strict on online betting. He had even shut down hundreds of gaming websites connected to illegal football gambling.

Others Involved in the Case

Hoa’s accomplice was 63-year-old Phan Van Vinh. Vinh is the former head of the MPS police general department. Vinh received a nine-year jail sentence for the same charges as Hoa.

VNExpress reported that Vinh “caused discontent among the public and distrust of the police force.” Vinh wasn’t in court during the sentencing. He was admitted to the hospital shortly before the trail due to high blood pressure, according to VNExpress.

Another individual involved in the gambling ring stated that he bribed Vinh. The co-accused individual stated he offered Vinh hundreds of thousands of dollars. The bribe also included a Rolex watch. Vinh denied this.

Vietnam’s Stance on Crime

Hoa and Vinh are among the most prominent officials convicted in the gambling ring. The convictions come as part of the Vietnamese government’s anti-corruption efforts. Since the country has been cracking down on illegal activity, a number of bankers, high-powered executives, and government officials have spent time in jail. The extra effort to reduce illegal activity is inspired by Beijing’s corruption crackdown that began in 2016.

Nguyen Phu Trong is perhaps the strongest force behind the country’s commitment to cut down on crime. Trong is Vietnam’s president and the head of the Communist Party. He has promised to stamp out mismanagement at every level. However, some citizens and officials say that Trong’s focused efforts are also aimed at getting rid of his political enemies.

Corruption and Gambling in Vietnam

Gambling in VietnamVietnam experienced a 6.8 percent growth in GDP in 2017, making it one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia. However, Vietnam is also known as one of Asia’s most corrupt countries.

According to its Corruption Perceptions Index, Transparency International ranks Vietnam 107 out of 180. The country ranks behind Thailand and Indonesia.

Vietnam has started to become more lenient in gambling regulations for citizens. It was recently announced that Vietnamese citizens are permitted to gamble in casinos. This is on a trial basis. The country is also open to sports gambling.

Gambling in Vietnam

Vietnamese have been engaging in gambling for hundreds of years. However, gambling in Vietnam is mostly illegal. There are several luxury casinos in the country, most of which are attached to fancy hotels. The casinos are only open to foreign visitors who have a passport and to overseas operators. The operators must be looking for developing gambling markets in Vietnam. It is also possible for people to cross the border to Cambodia or Laos, but this is generally not recommended.

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