Vietnam’s National Assembly has approved a new sports betting law. Previously, sports betting was extremely restricted, but now the country has opened up overseas betting to its citizens. This bill is timed to coincide with the beginning of the IFA World Cup in Russia.
Details of the bill
For many decades, sports betting was illegal in Vietnam. However, sports fans in the country naturally found ways around these laws and placed bets via international gambling websites.
A steady flow of revenue has been going out of the country for years as a result, and this new bill was passed partially so the government and local economies could recover these lost revenues.
There is also a thriving black market for sports betting in the country, which could be worth billions of dollars every year. This means that the government is missing out on significant sums of tax revenue due to sports betting being illegal.
The authorities have cracked down on this illegal gambling, and many rings have been broken up recently. This bill was approved with 457 deputies voting in favor; only a single person voted against it and two deputies abstained.
The new law will not go into effect until January 1, 2019. However, bets have been allowed since April on specific football matches that are on a list published by the local sports authority.
Some of the notable competitions included on this list are the Asian Games and the World Cup, which always attract large sums of gambling money. Betting on these matches was legalized under a decree issued in January 2017.
A five-year pilot plan was introduced whereby a single football betting company can bid for the one available license. This decree also set a maximum betting allowance of VND1m (£33; $44) a day with any given betting operator.
There have been no indications as to what online betting platforms will be allowed by the government. Despite these positive moves, there are still no legal sports betting platforms or agents in Vietnam, apart from a handful of horse racing agents.
One of the main reasons for this is down to the ultra-strict control and oversight the authorities place on these sports betting gambling operators, which creates more hassle than most are willing to deal with.
While the authorities are happy to give the license to overseas companies to set up sports betting in the country, there are a lot of strict requirements they have to adhere to.
Industry experts believe that local sports betting operators will apply to get licenses now that the National Assembly has approved this bill. Therefore, the coming weeks and months may see a flurry of activity on this front following the bill’s approval.
The Ministry of Finance will grant these licenses. The only currency that can be used for sports bets will be the dong (Vietnam’s native currency).
The money collected by the government via various betting taxes and charges will go toward the state budget and will be used to develop sports in the country, particularly football. One of the main lobbyists for this new gambling law was the Vietnam Football Federation.
Future of Vietnamese gambling
The easing of gambling laws in Vietnam has been a gradual process in recent years. The government in 2017 began allowing locals to go into casinos in Vietnam, which led to an influx of new investors interested in building new and improved facilities.
A three-year pilot scheme is in place to allow citizens to gamble in casinos, with the first ones to benefit from this ruling set to do so in July at a casino located in Phu Quoc. The first new casino license in the past decade has been awarded to a casino resort called Laguna Lang Co., in the province of Thua Thien Hue.
Gambling is a massively popular pursuit throughout Asia, and the Vietnamese are especially enamored with it. It is estimated that $800m (£602m) is spent by Vietnamese abroad on gambling every year, with popular destinations being Hong Kong, Singapore, and Macau.
From 2011 to 2015, $13bn (£9.8bn) was spent by citizens on the lottery. Of course, this was welcomed by the state-owned lottery companies, which saw revenue gains of 12% during this period. With the nation currently struggling to increase revenue, there is definitely potential in the continued relaxing of the restrictive gambling laws in the country.