Vietnam football betting unlikely to attract investors, analysts say

Authorities want to expand football betting in the country.
Authorities want to expand football betting in the country.

Gaming experts believe an expansion of football betting in Vietnam will be too restrictive to attract international investors.

Vietnam.- Although Vietnam is seeking to expand football betting through a new decree, analysts believe the move won’t be enough to attract investors as the legislation will remain too prohibitive.

According to the current betting regulations introduced in 2017, gamblers are only allowed to bet on international football matches and tournaments run by FIFA. The Ministry of Finance says that hasn’t attracted bookmakers as there are too few official FIFA-run tournaments.

Its new proposal would allow gamblers to bet on 27 competitions, including European leagues, the Uefa Championship and Champions League, the AFC Champions League and AFC Cup, and the Copa America.

The new decree will, however, maintain a betting limit of VND10,000 per bet and VND1m per day, and bettors will still need to be aged 21 or over.

According to VietnamNet, Lorien Pilling, a gambling consultant with GBGC Consulting, said: “The Vietnamese government did miss an opportunity in the way it chose to regulate football betting.”

He added: “The government’s overall approach to gambling for the local population, in both casinos and betting, has been cautious.”

Football betting in Vietnam

In 2017, Vietnam reported that it would choose one football betting supplier for a five-year trial period to open up the market. The trial allowed Vietnamese residents aged over 21 to make wagers on international football matches recognised by FIFA and approved by Vietnam’s sports ministry.

Online betting is not allowed in Vietnam, and bookmakers are required to be at least 500 meters away from schools and venues with children. 

Gaming operators also need to meet stringent capital requirements based on the sports offered. According to the decree, betting companies will need VND1tn for horse racing and football, and VND 300bn for dog racing. 

In addition, gamblers were required to meet a minimum bet of VND1,000 (US$0.04) while staying within the daily maximum of VND1m (US$44).

Lorien Pilling said that the fact that no company has come forward to participate in the football betting trial initiative sends a clear signal.

The illegal market generates about US$10bn in revenue each year and is still growing. Local gamblers place their bets on websites outside the Philippines and elsewhere. 

In order to regain control, the State Bank of Vietnam has instructed banks and payment companies to strengthen their control over illegal football betting, by monitoring large suspicious transaction accounts and controlling overseas fund transfers. 

In June, the police raided an online football betting ring worth VND1.5tn (US$65.4m) and arrested 21 people.

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