Government struggles to control illegal football betting

By Dat Nguyen   July 7, 2021 | 01:06 pm GMT+7
Government struggles to control illegal football betting
France's N'Golo Kante in action with Portugal's Ruben Dias and Renato Sanches in Euro 2020 - Group F - Portugal v France - Puskas Arena, Budapest, Hungary. Photo by Reuters/Bernadett Szabo.
Betting platforms still find ways to access gamblers in Vietnam though they are illegal under Vietnamese law.

The State Bank of Vietnam has recently directed banks and payment companies to tighten control over illegal football betting by monitoring accounts with large and dubious transactions and controlling the transfer of money abroad.

The 2020 Euro and Copa America championships that have kicked off are attracting enormous interest from gamblers.

Fabet.me claims to be headquartered in the Philippines and therefore not subject to Vietnamese law.

It offers betting on football, esports, casino table games and others. A gambler can bet by transferring cash to an account at one of several major banks like Vietcombank, BIDV and Vietinbank.

Hotline operators tell players that the platform has existed since 2012 and "has been working fine" despite being illegal in Vietnam.

"A minimum bet of VND50,000 ($2.18) is enough. You can put in as much as you want, even VND1 billion ($43,700)," one said.

Other platforms like 1xBetVN.com and Twin188.com operate in similar fashion.

Last month the Ministry of Security and Hanoi police busted an illegal sports betting syndicate which had accepted VND1.5 trillion worth of bets this year alone.

The police found it used bong88.com with servers located in the U.S. for people to bet on a number of sports including football, basketball and tennis.

Earlier this month police in the central province of Thanh Hoa broke up a network which facilitates a betting pool of up to VND500 billion on a single football match in the Euro or Copa America.

Also in Thanh Hoa, another football betting network on social media run by five men was busted this month. Police found that the average betting on each match was VND200 million.

These individuals collected over VND1.3 billion from bettors.

Though Vietnam legalized sports betting in 2017, stringent regulations prevent bookmakers from setting up shop, meaning all betting platforms active in the country are illegal. But they remain easily accessible as operators use tricks to circumvent the regulations.

A bookmaking business needs to have capital of VND1 trillion ($43.69 million) to accept bets on football, which experts have slammed as too high to recoup within the mandated five-year trial period.

Another challenge is that Vietnam only allows betting on international football games recognized by governing body FIFA and approved by the sports ministry, like the World Cup, the Confederations Cup, Copa America, Champions League, and Europa League.

This means the most popular leagues among Vietnamese fans like the English Premier League, La Liga (Spain), the German Bundesliga, Serie A (Italy) and Ligue 1 (France) are out.

While authorities want to keep track of how cash flows into illegal platforms, experts said this is easier said than done.

Tran Hung Son, deputy head of the Institute for Development and Research in Banking Technology, told Thanh Nien newspaper banks usually report to the central bank transactions involving suspicious transactions of VND300 million or more whereas most gambling transactions are less than that.

"Monitoring cash flows into illegal activities is a global challenge. Banks need to enhance their digital transformation to limit illegal activities."

 
 
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