With the advent of computer games like Pes 2010, football gamblers in Vietnam no longer have to fear match-fixing in European leagues or being arrested by the police -- they can play the game themselves as well as bet on it.
Two gamblers are betting on their own game Photo: Tuoi Tre
Betting on a single cyber-game lasting a quarter of an hour can exceed US$5,000 and winning also depends on skill with a mouse or joystick, with each “player” controling a side of 11 virtual footballers.
Pes versions 2010 or 2011 are the current favorites. Punters can either play the game at home with others or through intermediaries who have clients to play and bet.
The broker gets a bonus of 5 – 10 percent of the stakes.
One such intermediary, A of Linh Trung Ward in HCMC’s Thu Duc District, assured Tuoi Tre that it is totally safe from the police.
“Sometimes, even the owner of an internet shop or a guest sitting next to you does not know that we are gambling,” he said.
“But if you are interested in safety, we just come to other shops deeper in small lanes with few passers-by.”
The stake for a game should be at least VND500,000 (US$24) to attract other gamblers, he said.
“Here, most of gamblers are university students staying in the area.”
A brief survey by Tuoi Tre found dozens of internet shops in HCMC where Pes 2010 and 2011 are available all 24 hours.
In many cases, their owners also act as intermediaries between gamblers.
T, the owner of one such shop in Linh Trung, also known as “students village,” said gamblers have two options – either to bet on goals or the match result.
“Some prefer to bet on goals scored to win or lose quicker,” he said.
Many internet shops on Nguyen Cu Trinh Street in District 1 have become regular haunts for gamblers.
Gamblers at big-money games usually negotiate terms like duration and the referee who keeps the wager money. The venue is usually kept a secret until the last minute to make sure the police do not get wind of it.
Thuong of Tan Phu District, an intermediary, said gamblers have to hand over stakes to the referee or shop owner to prevent foul play.
However, the latter is becoming less and less important as a point person since gamblers just go online and leave their contact details.