Chess Gamblers At US$240,000 Per Game Arrested In VietnamDecember 28, 2011 2:58 pm
Gambling is illegal in the Southeast Asian country of Vietnam, with the exception of casinos. However, Vietnamese nationals are strictly forbidden from entering casinos which cater solely for foreigners.
Therefore, two southern Vietnam transport officials have found themselves on the wrong side of the law after being discovered gambling on Chinese chess games. The two men have now been taken into custody for two months, while police investigate charges of their illegal gambling activities.
However, one factor differentiating this story from those of others is the sheer size of the bets wagered by the men, which eventually reached US$47,500 to $237,000 per game.
The two high-stakes gamblers involved are the Department of Transport deputy director Nguyen Thanh Leo, and the director of a state-owned driver training center Tran Van Tan. Prior to his present position, Nguyen Thanh Leo headed the the province’s Construction Project Management Board, while Tan is an affluent businessman with a fleet of luxurious cars, as well as many large cafés in the city.
Apparently, the men started gabling on chess in 2009 with Leo eventually owing
Tan VN$22 billion (US$1 million). Leo then sold his properties, and borrowed
money from individuals and businesses but could only manage to repay a quarter of his gambling debts to Tan.
After Tan then threatened to hire gangsters to kill him and his family if the debt wasn’t repaid, Leo decided to go to the police, who organised a sting to catch the two men in the act. The operation was enacted on December 22, when Leo tipped police off to where they would be gambling, leading to police officers swooping in on the men at a local café and catching them red-handed.
In Vietnam, anyone found gambling is subject to large fines and/or a severe prison sentence. The two officials, if found guilty, can therefore expect harsh punishments, commented the Soc Trang People’s Committee deputy secretary, Le Thanh Quan.