- Ring leader, Wong Boon Leong, sentenced to nearly 15 months in prison
- Philippine online casino site, Dafabet.com was implicated in the operation
The People’s Court in Ho Chi Minh (HCM) City has handed out sentences to 64 individuals involved in an illegal gambling ring. Group ring leader, Wong Boon Leong, a Singapore national, was sentenced to 14 months and 24 days in prison.
However, as this was the exact time he had spent in jail waiting for trial he was able to leave the court as a free man. He also had to pay a VND 100m (US $4,400) fine and forfeited a further VND 500m ($21,950) from his dealings.
Some of his associates were less lucky however, with the judge handing out sentences ranging from nine months’ probation to three years in jail.
$45 million in illegal wagers
According to the official indictment, Wong, working as an agent for Philippine gaming site Dafabet.com, arrived in Vietnam in December 2014. From there he met with three residents of HCM City who, in turn recruited a further 60 locals to arrange bets, distribute wings and collect losses.
The ring lasted just under a year with the entire group being arrested in December 2015. Police believe, in that time, the group handled VND 1t ($45m) in illegal wagers.
The majority of the group – at least 43 – have been charged with opening accounts in Vietnam with the purpose of funnelling money back and forth from the Dafabet site.
Legal gambling in Vietnam
Vietnamese gamblers have few legal options when it comes to betting outside government-ran local lotteries. However, in January the government slowly cracked open the door to legal gambling with two separate trials.
The first is the opening of two live casinos which have each been given three year licenses to test the effect they have on the local population. Admittedly, the vast majority of locals though will not be able to attend as one of the entrance requirements is proof of a minimum monthly salary of VND 10m ($442), the average Vietnamese makes VND 4m.
The second potential opening is a five year trial allowing punters to bet on international football matches. There have been complaints that the max daily wager of VND 1m ($45) will drive serious gamblers underground but it can’t be denied that it is still a positive move forwards.