No betting on World Cup matches in Vietnam

By Dat Nguyen   June 15, 2018 | 04:40 pm PT
No betting on World Cup matches in Vietnam
Russia's Artem Dzyuba celebrates scoring their third goal with team mates in the 2018 World Cup opening match with Saudi Arabia. Photo by Reuters/Maxim Shemetov
Sports betting is legal, but a betting operator has not been selected for premier football event.

Football fans and punters in Vietnam cannot bet on World Cup matches this year, even though sports betting has been legalized.

Only a few companies have shown interest in operating a betting business in Vietnam, and none of them have actually submitted bidding documents.

The lack of agreement between relevant ministries on how to organize the bidding process is among the reasons for the delay, an unnamed Finance Ministry source told Tuoi Tre.

Limited betting options are another reason. Vietnam only allows betting on international soccer games recognized by the governing body FIFA and approved by the sports ministry. These include the World Cup, the Confederations Cup, Copa America, Champions League and Europa League. These are all short tournaments with limited number of matches, leaving a lot of “idle time.”

Meanwhile, the most popular football leagues in Vietnam, the English Premier League (EPL), La Liga (Spanish League), German Bundesliga, Serie A (Italia) and Ligue 1 (France), are out of the betting pool.

If a bookmaker were to operate for just FIFA recognized tournaments, they would suffer heavy losses, said economist Nguyen Tri Hieu.

According to a government decree that took effect on March 31, 2017, Vietnamese citizens can bet on international football games and horse and greyhound races. Only those above 21 years old are allowed to gamble and bookmakers have to be at least 500 meters away from schools and other public venues for children. The minimum bet value is VND1,000 (4.42 cents) and the daily maximum limit is VND1 million ($44).

Bookmakers will have to meet strict charter capital requirements: VND1 trillion ($44.2 million) for horse racing and soccer and VND300 billion ($13.2 million) for greyhound racing. It is planned that one soccer betting provider will be selected for a five-year trial phase through a bidding process.

On Thursday, Vietnam’s National Assembly approved a new law that allows locals to bet on sports events. The law is based on the 2017 government decree. Under the new law, betting will be allowed for other sports when the government approves a decree proposed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. The new law will not come into effect until next year.

Vietnamese are known for their love of gambling. It is estimated that they spend at least $800 million a year on gambling overseas, mainly in Macau, Singapore and Hong Kong.

Official figures show that Vietnamese citizens spent $13 billion on the lottery between 2011 and 2015, driving an average 12 percent gain in annual revenues of lottery companies over that period, according to Nikkei.

The Tuoi Tre report quoted a source from the Ministry of Culture and Information as saying that for now, “It is unclear when soccer betting will start.”

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