Last update 11/14/2010 11:01:00 PM (GMT+7)

Getting close to online casinos

VietNamNet Bridge – Previously, to gamble online, players had to contact agencies in Vietnam and pay fees to “bosses” – but now it is much simpler. 

“You only need to go online to directly make contact with the bankers through e-transaction, dubbed ‘magic wands’ by gamblers,” said former “boss” LTT, who worked as agency for many gambling websites.

However, LTT suggested a site for Tuoi Tre’s reporter to visit.

Part I: Online gambling investigation

Seeking magic wand

According to LTT, this site quickly offers “magic wand” or “e banking card”. With this card, players can gamble easily and don’t have to pay commission to agencies. With only one USD, you can bet against the banker.

Following LTT’s guidance, Tuoi Tre’s reporter opened an account with an ATM card at the Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank). Some bankers only accept debit cards from this bank (Visa Debit).

After getting the card, LTT instructed the reporter to register for the bank’s e-banking service. He hen helped set up an account at the online gambling site.

To be accepted players have to show a scan of their ID cards, a document proving they can transfer money from their Vietcombank account to a web account and the front of their Vietcombank card.

Two hours after making a transaction to transfer $50 from the Vietcombank card to the online account, the reporter was informed by email that he was now able to log into the site to gamble.

With many Vietnamese gamblers, this site has five languages, including Vietnamese.  The website offers various kinds of betting, from football to basketball, badminton, tennis and also stock indexes of the world.

LTT is the “captain” of Club DLTCL, the name of a group of online betters. This group hired a guest house and an Internet line to gamble. Their account always has over 100 million dong and they earn their living by online betting and commissions from new gamblers.

Spending a whole night with this group to see how they bet online, a Tuoi Tre’s reporter witnessed them losing nearly 50 million dong.

Tuoi Tre asked an official of the Vietcombank why banks transfer money to overseas betting accounts, Trinh Thuong Thuc, chief of the credit card service department, said that only if the government bans people from using bank cards for online payment, can the bank can stop transferring money to online accounts.

He said that whenever its clients use e-banking services, Vietcombank has to pay at client’s request. The payment system works automatically. The bank doesn’t have the right to refuse transactions.

Another option, E-purse is now offered at almost all banks in Vietnam. From this “purse”, clients can use Visa Debit cards to transfer money to any betting accounts in the world.

Dinh The Hien, director of the Institute for IT and Application Economics, said that online betting and gambling is very popular but it is impossible to prevent it. To control online betting, e-banking services must be controlled and this will affect people’s banking transaction in general.

According to AFP, there are around 15,000 sports betting websites, including over 13,000 illegal sites. Their turnover is up to 15 billion euros a year ($23.6 billion). Most of the sites are based in Euro.

A research by an IT security consulting firm named ISSC recently warned that behind many illegal betting sites are criminal gangs.

Other tricks

As the number of online gambling sites rise – so do their victims.

Besides online casinos for Vietnamese professional gamblers, internet users can take part in online games on many websites – a fact confirmed by online gambler H.

With just a few clicks, H became a member of one Vietnamese website. This web supplies new members with virtual coins called gold. To get higher level in the game, players have to try to earn 100,000 gold, 1 million gold or even 100 million gold to become a big player. If they lose the free gold, they will have to exchange real money for virtual gold to continue the game. 10 million gold is equivalent to 50,000 Vietnam dong.

T, an online gambler said that every form of gamble is available on the internet, even popular online games in Vietnam as MU, Sword man, Thien Long Bat Bo, etc. are associated with betting.

He explained that in online games, players can only gamble with virtual money and can only exchange real money into virtual coins. In FPT’s MU game, players can make football bets.

In online games, there are two kinds of ratings: rating in terms of level and in terms of wealth, both associated with betting or gamble.

To serve online gamblers, there are a whole host of service websites attracting visitors with slogans like “How to make much money”, “The most accurate lottery forecast system”, “Football matches that will surely make you win in betting”, etc.

If one clicks to these slogans, he will see “To know the most accurate prediction of tonight’s lottery result, please send message to 6xxx” or “Secret information from lottery spinning room, type SOI and send to 6xxxx”.

After sending a text message by phone to this number, one receives the following message: “Thank you for using our service. We don’t have the latest forecast yet. We will send it to you immediately when we get it” while he pays 3,000-5,000 dong in his phone account.

Victims of online gambles

T is a member of, a group of addicted online gamblers. This man and his group opened an account for football betting in central Thanh Hoa province. T owed over 500 million dong (over $30,000) and he had to flee to Saigon.

In T’s group was K, who was an excellent student of HCM City-based Ton Duc Thang University and V, a former student of the HCM City University of Natural Sciences. At the beginning, both of them just tried online gaming. Gradually, they have become gambling addicts and they quit university to devote more time to the online world.

To have money for online gambles, K started selling druges – later he became an addict himself. He currently lives at the foot of Saigon Bridge.

“My parents abandoned me two years ago. I want to give up everything to make a new life but it is so difficult because I’m stopped by debts and drugs,” K said.

V is no longer a student but he lies to his parents that he is in order to receive money for online gambling. “I’ve asked my parents to give me 10 million dong for my master course,” he said. V said that he had tried to give up online gambling several times but has so far failed.

Another group of online gamblers – DLTCL club – in District 10 is another example. The group’s leader is an engineer, who had to change jobs several times because of being fired as a result of spending too much time spent playing online games.

All members of this group lost assets like mobile phones, motorbikes and even houses to online gambling. Some have convictions relating to robbery or burglary.

In June 2008, a man in Tan Phu district, HCM City committed suicide after failed online sport bet.

A family in Tan Binh district recently had to ask for police’s protection because a family member lost an online bet worth 200 million. He couldn’t pay the bet and his family were threatened by a gang.

Recently, two men who were born in 1987 in District 11 jumped into the river because they couldn’t pay for an online bet.

Senior Lieutenant Vo Duy Thang from the HCM City Police Agency said that online gambling is a hi-tech crime, which develops in big cities like Hanoi, HCM City and Hai Phong. It is very difficult for police to combat it as evidence is also “virtual”.

However, police have discovered many online gambling gangs.