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In Vietnam, both betting on and organizing such gambling is banned, but these activities still take place, with several bankers acting as branches of foreign betting organizations.
A slew of websites allow gamblers to bet unlimited amounts of money, which could rocket to hundreds of million dong per match. Before the Euro tournament, these website operators provided big promotions to those opening new accounts.
Most of the websites originate abroad and are operated by foreigners. Domestic bankers are acting as their agencies and bookies to transfer money out of Vietnam.
Several websites had been blocked, but the foreign bankers immediately sent email to instruct their Vietnamese branches on how to access the betting network.
The Ministry of Public Security says it is very difficult to investigate foreign bankers. Even gamblers don’t know who they place bets with, since all of the transactions are made online.
The ministry has listed a number of football betting rings in Vietnam in order to keep a close eye on them and investigate their activities. Any rings or individuals caught red-handed would be strictly handled.
Many football betting dens operate in the Thu Duc university village in Ho Chi Minh City, and have deluded several students, who even sell or pawn their motorcycles, cell phones or laptops for betting money.
One of the largest dens belongs to a 35 year-old-man named Ut from the central highland province of Dak Lak. He has opened a disguised coffee shop which runs football betting in Dong Hoa Commune of Di An District in the neighboring province of Binh Duong.
The 100 square meter coffee shop is located in a blind alley near the University of Agriculture and Forestry and is always full of gamblers, most of whom are students.
Ut’s shop also acts as the intermediary for a large banker. After recording bets, Ut sends them to the banker via a networked laptop in his shop.
On June 11, Tuoi Tre reporters witnessed numerous students and other gamblers gathering there before the France-England match. Within just 10 minutes, over 20 people had lined up to place bets.
Cong, a hired staff of the ring operated by Queo, is receiving betting money from punters (Photo: Tuoi Tre)
Nam, a third year student, tried to place a VND200,000 (US$9.6) bet. “I ran out of money after losing VND5 million yesterday,” he said. However, Ut refused, saying “I do not accept any bet below VND350,000.”
Several students have had to pawn their belongings so that they can afford to pay Ut for their bets. “It is common to see students place VND15-20 million bets,” said Ut, who also provides a telephone betting ‘service’.
Many other coffee, internet and photocopy shops also organize football gambling, attracting a lot of students.
Tuoi Tre reporters followed a group of gamblers to a large betting den on Truong Van Thanh Street of Hiep Phu Ward in District 9 on June 12. This den is familiar to several professional gamblers.
The den operates like a company with an 80 square meter ‘office’ for betting. In front of the ‘office’ is a coffee shop with three large screens to serve the gamblers.
The den’s owner is Queo, a 28 year old from District 9. He has rented the place to sell coffee and run football gambling for two years.
A few months earlier, while several dens in the surrounding area were consecutively raided by the police, Queo’s den remained untouched, doubling its prestige to gamblers.
Queo in his bettign 'office' (Photo: Tuoi Tre)
Punters are paying money in the betting 'office' run by Queo (Photo: Tuoi Tre)