While Vietnam is technically still a communist country, with a single-party rule, many aspects of its economy and society seem to display rather capitalistic traits. Following global trends, gambling – a traditionally popular pastime in ‘Nam – has been increasingly moving online and of course entering the gambling news every now and then.
Being that such gaming activities are completely illegal under Vietnamese gambling laws, the government is constantly on the lookout for unauthorized behavior.
Thus it came to pass that on January 16, two police divisions, the Investigation Department of Social Security Crime and the Department Against High-tech Crime busted an online casino gambling ring, reportedly worth hundreds of millions of US dollars.
The amount is astronomically high in a country where the average monthly pay is around USD 150. If it is true – and one may have some doubts about the accuracy of police reports coming out of a communist country – then authorities are probably justified calling it “the largest-ever gambling den in northern Vietnam”.
The bust included the arrest of seven people in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) and Hanoi. According to police claims the criminals ran online betting on horse racing, football, tennis, petanque and other sports, siphoning the profits abroad by the millions.
It’s not only internet betting, which is persecuted in Vietnam. Police have also closed a large and similarly illegal land-based gambling den in November, which had been in operation for decades. Moreover, the state has promised to crack down on government employees in high positions who gamble abroad using state funds.