Vietnam: Restrictive Betting Regulations Push Bettors Offshore

A local media report in Vietnam is blaming stringent regulations of legal sports betting in the country for the recent surge in illegal betting on soccer games seen in a period which featured both Copa America in Brazil and EURO 2020 championships.

Restrictions Push Bettors to Illegal Market

The report, published in VietnamNet, states that illegal betting activities in the country generate around $10 billion in annual turnover partly due to the legal sports betting regime, which discouraged any operator from participation so far.

Introduced under a 5-year pilot program in 2017, legal sports betting in Vietnam is still to see a sports betting operator enter the market. The regulatory regime is placing significant requirements in terms of capital, as well as restrictions on sports available for betting, making the market unattractive to operators.

According to Decree 06, a minimum charter capital of VND1 trillion ($43.5 million) is required, while operators can offer their customers betting on soccer, horse and greyhound racing only. With soccer competitions restricted to those sanctioned by the world governing body FIFA only, leaving attractive for bettors competitions like the English Premier League and La Liga in Spain out of the frame, the regulatory framework in the country is proving to be overly restrictive.

Discourage Payments to Illegal Sportsbooks

The media report followed a directive released by the State Bank of Vietnam this month, urging banks and other payment providers to discourage the use of payment accounts, bank cards and e-wallets from customers for gambling purposes, including betting on soccer games.

In the directive, the bank argued that betting online on sports is so simple nowadays that a bettor only needs to have access to betting odds and a smartphone to place a wager.

“Never before have we been able to access and play online football betting with bookies so easily like today.”

Directive, State Bank of Vietnam

Plans for a new decree to expand the scope of international soccer competitions allowed for legal sports betting were put forward by the Ministry of Finance (MOF) a year ago, with further updates yet to be released, while the sector continues to struggle.

According to local media reports, a similar pilot program for a 3-year scheme to allow locals to gamble in land-based casinos is expected to see an extension until 2024 after MOF proposed the extension last month. Relatively successful, the pilot allowed Vietnam residents to gamble inside the Corona Resort & Casino in Phu Quoc, one of three locations envisaged by MOF in the original plan.

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