HCM CITY — Police of the southern city have uncovered a major illegal poker ring, involving wealthy players, taking place in an upscale apartment in Bình Thạnh District in HCM City.
Some 21 people were arrested on Wednesday including three overseas Vietnamese people living in the United States.
The three ringleaders, Trần Tuấn Anh, 28, from Tân Bình District, Trần Nguyễn Anh Tú, 27, from District 7 and Nguyễn Tuấn Phát, 32, from District 9, admitted to the police that they had rented the upscale apartment for US$850 a month to hold poker games for players that have the money to burn.
Players included businessmen, overseas Vietnamese and rich people. This underground casino operated from 12pm to 4am the next morning, with each session attracting 10-20 players with VNĐ10-100 million ($441-4410) at stake for one player.
The players entering the “casino” were managed by fingerprint readers to prevent access to strangers.
One player would have to buy at least two plastic chips at a minimum price of VNĐ5 million each.
Three young women in their 20s were also hired as poker dealers, who did not receive standard “salaries”, but only a fraction of the tips they got from players.
Some 522 plastic poker chips (translating to a cash value of VNĐ530 million
, a poker table, a poker journal, and cash of VNĐ318 million, as well as 17 credit cards, 21 mobile phones and two visas were seized.
During two months of operation, the casino organisers collected some VNĐ2 billion from the 4 per cent rate they imposed on the winners, police said.
The police are expanding their investigation.
Bridge card game and poker associations are allowed in Việt Nam, however, the city’s crime police department said that in recent times, there has been a rise in bridge and poker clubs, which serve as fronts for illegal gambling.
Việt Nam is considered to have one of the strictest anti-gambling laws in the world, with most forms of gambling being illegal.
Until December 2017, casinos in Việt Nam only served foreigners while Vietnamese were not permitted. However, a new, relaxed regulation has been issued, allowing those with stable income to play. — VNS