Vietnam’s stringent sports betting regulations have been blamed for a rise in illegal football betting in recent weeks, coinciding with the EURO 2020 championships in Europe and Copa America in Brazil.
The State Bank of Vietnam released this month a directive for banks and payment firms to avoid creating conditions that might encourage customers to use payment accounts, bank cards and e-wallets for transactions related to gambling, including football betting.
“Online football betting has become extremely simple,” the directive reads. “Players can see the odds and make football betting online on their phones. Never before have we been able to access and play online football betting with bookies so easily like today.”
According to a report by VietnamNet, the growth in illegal football betting – estimated to account for US$10 billion in annual turnover – is in part due to overly stringent regulations which discourage investment into the sector.
Although sports betting was legalized in Vietnam in 2017 under a five-year pilot program, not dissimilar to a three-year pilot allowing locals to gamble in selected casinos, Decree 06 has proved to be overly restrictive by limiting betting to football, horse racing and greyhound racing.
It also requires minimum charter capital of VND1 trillion (US$43.5 million). With football betting restricted to foreign tournaments sanctioned by FIFA – popular leagues such as the English Premier League and Spain’s La Liga are off limits – the decree has failed to attract a single investor willing to test Vietnam’s legal sports betting waters.
The absence of any progress in the sector comes a year after the Ministry of Finance (MOF) touted plans for a new decree that would allow betting on more international football events, although any such update is yet to be forthcoming.
According to local media reports, the Ministry last month suggested an extension until 2024 of the pilot scheme allowing locals to gamble in casinos. The original scheme had proposed to grant three casinos the opportunity to allow locals to gamble although such permission has so far only been granted to one – Corona Resort & Casino in Phu Quoc.