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Vietnam cracks down on underground gambling ring worth US$1 billion

THIS is why it’s important to regulate legalised sports betting.

Police in Vietnam have flushed out an illegal online gambling ring that took in more than USD$1 billion in wagers over the weekend, arresting more than 20 people in the biggest betting bust in the country’s history.

Vietnam, where almost all forms of gambling are illegal, has a thriving black market for people still looking to make bets on casino games, racing and sport.

The particular betting ring exposed this week used a cloaked website where it asked its customers to deposit cash and bet with ‘fake money’ in encrypted accounts.

The majority of bets were reportedly made on football, basketball and US sports.

Vietnam law enforcement is yet to divulge more details into the sting, but it has been widely reported thus far that up to 12 of the 20 people arrested at this stage were organisers.

The irony of this sting is the timing.

After years with a hard-lined approach to gambling, Vietnam has actually been running trials which have allowed some citizens to bet on sports legally, while also allowing the opening of bricks and mortar casinos.

The case made constantly in favour of legalising and regulating sports betting and other forms of gambling is that whether it’s legal or not, people seek to gamble.

As this case and others like it prove around the world, making betting illegal is typically no real obstruction to punters, who will take their money to illegal bookmakers that offer no safety or regulation, filling the pockets of black market operatives, rather than through a legal, regulated taxable source.

While we would expect stings like this to convince the Government of the benefits of legalisation, we suspect the country may go in the opposite direction, using the arrests and busts to justify its hard-line on the subject.

We’ll watch this space.

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