Vietnam’s National Assembly has passed a bill that legalizes the principle of sports betting.
While the key details of the bill – including what sports will be covered – are still to be established, it looks like the Vietnamese government will be doing all it can to retain tight control of the industry.
Betting will be denominated in the local currency, the Vietnamese dong, which is certainly going to make for some spectacular winnings, with one US dollar equivalent to nearly 23,000 dongs.
Clampdown on illegal betting
As we have reported recently, illegal sports betting has been rampant in Vietnam, with several government crackdowns. Legalising sports betting makes economic sense – presumably, the government will raise revenue from taxing the industry and save police and criminal justice costs by no longer pursuing illegal gambling. The government says that it wants to “ensure transparency, objectivity and honesty” in the new industry, as well as “ensuring the rights and obligations of involved parties”.
This is likely to include both money laundering and “affordability” tests on gamblers – last year the Vietnamese government allowed local casinos to accept bets from Vietnamese gamblers for a three-year trial period. However, the gamblers had to be over 21 and have a monthly income of at least VND10m ($442, £335) to be allowed to gamble.
Although the government has not yet decided which sports will be covered, it is a fairly safe bet that horse racing, dog racing, and international football will be included – all sports which were included in a 2017 pilot program which allowed certain Vietnamese gamblers to bet with one licensed operator.
With the World Cup entering its second week, you might argue that the Vietnamese government is doing too little, too late – but there will be another World Cup in four years’ time and, like certain other human frailties, the urge to gamble will not be going away. Vietnam is simply one of many countries around the world – and states in the US – which is recognizing that taxed, controlled gambling is a safer and more lucrative option than leaving it to the illegal bookie on the street corner.