Vietnam Legalizes Sports Betting
On June 14, 2018, Vietnam’s National Assembly passed a bill, legalizing the principle of sports betting, with government oversight. As of now, it lacks clarity on a number of issues, such as categories of sports which will be included as well as how it will be implemented by the government. The government will be releasing further details before it comes into effect next year. This law follows a March 2017 decree, which legalized betting on international football games, horse races, and greyhound races.
Last year, the government issued Decree No. 06/2017/ND-CP (“Decree 06”), which included a five-year pilot program for betting on horseracing, greyhound racing, and international football. The decree is already in effect. Decree 06 includes strict conditions for firms involved in betting activities.
- Charter capital – For horseracing and football, the charter capital requirement is VND1 trillion ($44.2 million), while for greyhound racing it is VND300 billion ($13.2 million);
- Football betting – During the five-year pilot program, only one betting operator will be provided the investment registration certificate. The government only allows international soccer games recognized by FIFA, the international governing body, which includes the World Cup, the Confederations Cup, Copa America, Champions League, and Europa League.
- Horseracing and Greyhound racing – Firms involved in these races must be in the form of a limited liability or a joint stock company;
- Amount and age restrictions – All players must be at least 21 years old. Maximum bet allowed is VND1 million (US$ 44) per day, while the minimum is set at VND1,000 (4.42 cents);
Apart from racing and football betting, the government also issued Decree No. 03/2017/ND-CP last year, which allowed selected domestic casinos to accept bets from Vietnamese gamblers, under certain conditions for a three-year period. The decree is already in effect.
Casinos can only allow Vietnamese citizens to gamble if the casino’s total investment capital is at least US$ 2 billion. Minimum age is same as betting, 21 years. Gamblers need to have a monthly income of at least VND 10 million (US$ 445). In addition, they should also have permission from their family, and should not have a criminal record.
To enter a casino, one has to buy an entrance ticket of VND 1 million (US$44) every 24 hours. They can also buy a monthly pass at VND 25 million (US$ 1,100).
Regulating the market
Until recently, citizens gambled and bet on sports through illegal bookmakers and international websites. Vietnamese spend at least US$800 million gambling overseas and lottery spending between 2011 and 2015 reached US$ 13 billion, growing annually by 12 percent. The State owns all the lottery companies in Vietnam.
To ensure transparency, increase tax revenues, reduce the outflow of money, and attract foreign investment, the government finally decided to regulate the market, hoping to curb underground gambling and betting in the country.
Need to do more
Despite the government’s relaxation of gambling and betting regulations, the country has seen little interest from operators. The government had already allowed betting on football, but citizens are unable to bet on the ongoing FIFA World Cup, as there are no licensed betting operators in the country. Major hurdles for operators include charter capital requirements, bidding procedures, and restrictions on betting only on international matches.
FIFA organized international soccer games are mostly held once a year, while football matches in leagues such as England’s English Premier League, Spain’s La Liga, and Italy’s Serie A, are longer tournaments. Vietnamese citizens cannot bet on these league matches according to government regulations and betting operators do not want to bid for events that are held only once a year or every four years. The government has already taken the necessary steps to legalize betting, but it needs to provide further clarity on the bidding process and increase the options for betting operators.
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