Vietnam Online Gambling Investigation Imminent
February 20, 2009 (InfoPowa News) — The spread of broadband and WiFi technology has led to an upsurge in online gambling in Vietnam, but due to the unregulated nature of the pastime local media are warning punters to be cautious with their choices and their money, pointing out that at the dark end of the business there have been reports of intimidation and theft to recover gambler debts.
According to one report, Vietnamese online gambling can have a somewhat different modus operandi that has a foot in both the virtual and real worlds. The report revealed that after opening an account at an Internet gambling website, players sometimes have to pay a deposit … and collectors can come directly to customers' doors to collect cash and distribute winnings.
In other cases, wealthier and established clients can play on credit … but agency collectors don't hesitate to help themselves to property if obligations are not met.
The news publication Thanh Nien claims that the most popular online casino in the region is operated by King's Crown Casino in neighbouring Cambodia, located near the border of southern Vietnam’s Tay Ninh Province at Kingscrowncasino.com.
The operators take extraordinary precautions — new gamers have to ask influential gamblers in the city to introduce them over the phone to the manager of the online casino in Cambodia, who will ask employees in Ho Chi Minh City to collect a deposit of no less than US$500 to open an account, said the report.
Thanh Nien quoted one source as saying that Kings Crown online casino had two shareholders in Ho Chi Minh City that managed accounts and employees in the southern hub and nearby provinces, with the operation collecting hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars a day from gamblers.
Vietnamese police are planning an investigation into online gambling activity, according to a spokesman, who said there had been several complaints regarding fraud and theft. The spokesman said that there had been no arrests so far because Internet gambling was still a relatively new phenomenon in the country. And an official with the Ministry of Public Safety said a country-wide investigation into online gambling rings in Vietnam would be launched, and that convicted organizers of online gambling could face criminal charges.
Truong Xuan Tam, deputy chairman of the Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province Bar Association, said gamblers could face criminal charges if VND1 million ($57) or more was involved in the case. Amounts below this usually warranted only a fine. While owners of online gambling services might be abroad and beyond the reach of local authorities, locals on their payroll could face criminal charges if caught facilitating gambling in Vietnam.