VIETNAMESE police are widening a probe into a gambling and bank embezzlement racket on the Chinese border that has already driven two bankers to kill themselves. Police in the border town of Lao Cai are now hunting more corrupt officials from the province's Agriculture Bank, fearing far more than the originally estimated US$280,000 (HK$2.16 million) in government funds and jewellery has been lost. So far 10 officials apparently addicted to the underground lottery So De have been linked to the craze now sweeping the free-wheeling trading posts of Vietnam's northern border. One suspect has disappeared and two others - a branch manager and his chief accountant - killed themselves before police could swoop. Official reports in Vietnam's state press have claimed that bank staff routinely dipped into the bank's vaults over a year to fuel their habits. The lottery now draws thousands of players daily. Based on the first or last two digits of a daily state draw, it promises 60-to-1 payouts with enticing 100-to-1 odds. Four senior staff in one jewellery shop owned by the bank blew US$140,000 alone - a fortune in Vietnam's rural areas where many people earn less than 50 cents a day. According to one report: 'The devastating effect of So De is becoming so widespread, but no serious attempt has ever been made to check the spread of this social evil.' Bankers continued to gamble despite warnings of severe punishments from local Communist Party chiefs. The organisers have yet to be traced, having been driven deeper underground. In the meantime they have been supplying losers with extensive credit and demanding mortgages as security. Meanwhile, Hanoi police rounded up some 78 gamblers late last week in the biggest gaming raid yet in the capital. Swords and knifes were found among US$10,000 in cash at a den in the city's Hai Ba Trung district. The probes come as many senior Hanoi officials become increasingly concerned at swift social change following economic reforms in both rural and urban areas. Growing divides between rich and poor are alarming some leaders, sparking calls for more to be done to manage development.