Vietnam bans its people from casinos, but these 'poker faces' didn’t mind serving their rich players

By Quoc Thang   January 4, 2018 | 02:53 pm GMT+7
Vietnam bans its people from casinos, but these 'poker faces' didn’t mind serving their rich players
A police photo shows four people running an illegal casino in Saigon.

Four Vietnamese were arrested for running a casino that earned up to $11,000 a week from Poker fans.

Police in Saigon busted a casino serving Vietnamese businesspeople on Wednesday, exposing a professional gambling ring that was prospering right above a national ban.

The raid on Wednesday found more than 20 people playing Poker around 500 chips, many bank cards and stacks of cash worth nearly $18,000 at a luxury apartment building in Binh Thanh District.

Three organizers Nguyen Tan Phat, 31, Tran Tuan Anh, 27, and Nguyen Anh Tu, 26, were arrested with the players, most of them businessmen and overseas Vietnamese, and all of their employees.

The trio said they knew the players from Poker clubs in the city and they recognized a bigger interest than just playing for fun.

They rented the apartment for $1,000 a month to run the casino, and kept strangers away by a security system of fingerprints, magnetic locks and cameras.

A 25-year-old man was hired to take care of the payment.

Young women were there to serve the players with food, drinks and distributing cards. They received no payment from the casino but tips from the players, which they had to share with Anh.

Players surrender during a police raid into an illegal casino in Saigon on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of the police

Players surrender during a police raid into an illegal casino in Saigon on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of the police

The casino was usually serving from noon until early the next morning. Each round gathered up to nine people who gambled for around VND100 million ($4,400).

It has been open for more than two months without a license, making between VND150-250 million a week, police said.

Poker is legal in Vietnam, where the Ministry of Home Affairs has licensed a Bridge and Poker Association and many cities and provinces have established their own clubs.

But the country bans most kinds of gambling and only allows existing casinos to serve people with foreign IDs.

A government resolution allows Vietnamese aged 21 or older with good legal and financial record to enter casinos from the December 2017, but they are limited to a number of places.

A specific list is not available, but officials had said earlier that they would be allowed to gamble only at two casinos at Van Don Special Economic Zone in the northern province of Quang Ninh and the other in the southern resort island of Phu Quoc, both under construction.

 
 
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