Police in Vietnam detained 59 people linked to a cryptocurrency gambling ring in what was seen to be the city’s biggest-ever illegal online gambling ring, with transactions totaling more than $3.8 billion, not including the reciprocal money from the dealers.
The suspects have admitted to the police their involvement in organizing the online gambling site and have had their items confiscated. These items include 40 laptops, 79 mobile phones, ATM cards, luxury cars, and cash worth over 2.9 billion dongs ($130,000), according to state media on Dec. 3.
Ho Chi Minh City police said players were enticed with luxury cars and insurance packages that guaranteed a refund if they lost six games.
Gamblers were asked to purchase cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum or USDT—also known as Tether—from a crypto marketplace called Remitano before placing bets on websites like Swiftonline and Nagaclubs.com.
The platform organizers would receive commissions from the platforms for bringing new players, but as more players joined the gambling sites, organizers would intentionally crash the websites to steal money from the digital wallets. These platforms are said to be intermediaries to the international gambling site, Evolution.com.
All forms of online gambling are prohibited in Vietnam. While there are a few licensed casinos in Vietnam, gambling is restricted to foreign passport holders.
Last year, police busted illegal online gambling, a site named “No Hu,” with transactions estimated at $2.6 billion, while more than 380 Chinese people were arrested in 2019 for running online gambling platforms in Vietnam.
Meanwhile, Evolution Gaming, a subsidiary of Swedish gaming company Evolution AB, has been linked to the illegal online gambling ring in Vietnam and is currently the subject of a regulatory complaint in New Jersey.
The company was also accused of conducting business in countries where gambling is prohibited, which Evolution has strongly denied.
Evolution AB reportedly lost about $3 billion in market value on Nov. 17, with shares of the company declining by 9 percent in morning trade after a jump of 62 percent this year to a valuation of $33 billion.
Evolution’s spokesman stated that the company strictly adhered to all applicable laws and regulations, saying that the company “use all tools at our disposal to block play from certain countries, including all countries on sanction lists.”
He added that the company has no direct relationship with the underlying player or involvement in handling players’ money and that it does not own or control any of the operators with whom it partners.
Reuters contributed to this report.