Vietnamese National Assembly Provisionally Legalizes Sports Betting
The Vietnamese National Assembly passed a bill which will legalize some sports betting on a provisional basis. The new law goes into effect in the Southeast Asian nation on January 1, 2019.
The amendment allows a certain amount of sports betting and racebook betting by Vietnamese residents, by on a test basis. The law is similar to the one passed in 2017, which allow Vietnamese high rollers to bet at local casinos, if they can prove they have an income of $400 or more each month.
Vietnamese federal lawmakrs voted by a 94% margin among its 498 members to approve limited sports betting. The measure is a part of a previous law, the Law on Sports & Physical Training, which liberalized some casino gambling in Vietnam previously.
Nguyen Phu Trong’s Betting Regulations
General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong plans to issue more detailed regulations in autumn 2018. It appears the government’s officials and not lawmakers will provide the bulk of gaming regulations under the new amendment.
The measure allows Vietnamese residents to bet on sporting events, including non-domestic football games. Football (soccer) is the most popular sports for Vietnamese sports bettors, so the institution of legal football betting could undermine illegal sports betting rings in the country.
Betting on Horse & Dog Races
The racebook provisions allow betting on horse races and dog races in Vietnam. The country’s currency, the dong, is the only currency which gamblers can use to make legal sports bets.
Sports betting on illegal gambling sites has become a problem for the Vietnamese government, as it is trying to close the gap in a $9 billion government budget shortfall.
$800 Million in Sports Betting Turnover
Officials say that Vietnamese sports bettors wager up to $800 million a year at illegal sportsbook sites hosted in Singapore, Hong Kong, and Macau. The government has noted that legal lottery betting accounted for $13 billion in wagers over a 5-year period, so lawmakers want to tap gaming activities to help close the budget deficit.
The Vietnamese lottery has produced 12% year-on-year growth in those five years, so officials believe such gaming should become a significant part of making up the shortfall — if Vietnamese sportsbooks show a similar growth over the next 5 years.
Sportsbook Pilot Program
Like the pilot program for Vietnamese land-based casino bettors, the bill allows for cancellation if officials determine it is harmful to Vietnamese society or the new law produces disappointing results. The Vietnamese casino betting pilot program called for a 2-year trial period, at which time the Vietnamese National Assembly in Hanoi could decide what to do next.
Vietnam’s leaders are intent on drawing international casino investors to their land. Instituting legal sports betting is a way to lure those investors. While a resort with casino gambling is lucrative, a resort which offers casino games and sports gambling should be much more lucrative — as casino operators throughout the United States have said for decades.
Undermining Illegal Bookmaking Rings
Despite the desire by the government budgets and sportsbook-related taxes, the government officials behind the policy publicly focus on undermining illegal gambling syndicates which dominate the underground sports betting economy. Bets made through illegal bookmakers is money off the government books, so it costs the Vietnamese government millions of dollars per year.
The National Assembly passed the bill at a time that Asian sports betting is at a 4-year high. Every four years, sports bettors throughout most of the world increase their betting habits, due to interest in the World Cup football tournament.