Vietnam formally legalizes sports betting

By VnExpress   February 3, 2017 | 06:14 pm GMT+7

Starting late March Vietnamese can bet on horse and greyhound races as well as a number of soccer matches.

After years of deliberation, Vietnam has finally made a historic decision to legalize sports betting.

A new decree released on the government’s official website on Friday will allow citizens to bet on international soccer games and horse and greyhound races starting March 31.

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People watch football at a cafe in Vietnam. Photo by AFP 

Online betting is out of question for now. Only those above 21 years old are allowed to gamble and bookmakers have to be at least 500 meters away from schools and public venues for children.

The minimum bet value is VND1,000 (4.42 cents) while the daily maximum limit is VND1 million ($44).

The decree only allows betting on international soccer games recognized by the governing body FIFA and approved by Vietnam's sports ministry.

Operators of bookmaking businesses will have to meet strict capital requirements: VND1 trillion ($44.2 million) for horse racing and soccer and VND300 billion ($13.2 million) for greyhound. A bidding process will be held to select one soccer betting provider for a five-year trial phase.

Officials started working on sports betting rules in 1999 but debates after debates delayed the legalization.

Vietnam now has one greyhound race course in the southern beach town of Vung Tau. A $100 million horse race course will be opened in the southern province of Binh Duong in April. Hanoi will also build a horse racetrack, a $500 million project that has been delayed for some time.

The government last month also said it would allow citizens over 21 years old with a monthly income of at least VND10 million ($445) to hedge bets in local casinos from mid-March under a three-year pilot program, breaking a long-year ban of gambling among locals.

All these recent moves show the government has shifted its stance on gambling, once considered a "social evil."

Many locals have broken the long-running gambling ban, creating a lucrative illegal industry for online betting. A number of online operations have been busted in recent years.

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