Following the raids last month on hotels in Ho Chi Minh City and Vung Tau, Vietnamese police have called 15 people for further questioning. Viet Nam currently licenses some casinos at hotels but these are for foreigners and Vietnamese non-residents. Gambling by local nationals, whether at casinos or electronic gaming centres, is against the law. Four hotels in Ho Chi Minh City and one in Van Tau were raided by police in May and seven people were arrested.
Of the fifteen now to be interrogated reportedly ten are high rollers who allegedly have gambled hundreds of thousands of dollars. One newspaper claims that police are investigating the possible existence of a gangster ring that is influential in obtaining casino licences for hotel owners. One of the hotels concerned had been granted a licence even though it did not have 4-star status as required by Vietnamese gaming regulations. The organised crime syndicate thought to be involved in illegal gambling is estimated to have received as much as US$1 million from hotel owners for assistance in gaining casino licences and operating licences for cyber games.
Last year Viet Nam joined the World Trade Organisation and foreign investment projects have recently been proliferating. Several of these are for resort casino complexes in the coastal areas of the country. The number of foreigners visiting Viet Nam is expected to rise rapidly. At the beginning of June Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung ordered tighter management of the electronic gaming centres and casinos to prevent gambling violations. The Ministry of Planning and Investment is to investigate and compile a report before September. (E-06.13.07)
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