Vietnamese allowed to bet on football games, horse and dog races

HANOI (VIETNAM NEWS/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) -Vietnam's government has issued a long-awaited decree allowing citizens to bet on international football matches and on horse and dog races.

This follows a decree issued last month by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc lifting a ban on gambling by Vietnamese at local casinos.

The latest decree, issued last week, is expected to pave the way for foreign and domestic investment in race courses and other gambling activity.

Under the decree, each gambler can place a wager with an authorised betting firm for a maximum of 1 million dong (S$62.80) and a minimum of 10,000 dong for each betting product per day.

The football wagers will be limited to matches that have the approval of international football overseers FIFA.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism will issue the list of eligible international football matches for betting. Punters must be at least 21 years old and Vietnamese dong must be used to purchase betting tickets and pay awards, said the decree.

According to the decree, the minimum investment capital for horse racing and football betting businesses will be 1 trillion dong each, and for dog racing will be 300 billion dong.

The legalisation has been discussed for years. In 2010, the Ministry of Finance began formulating a draft decree, but sought to first learn from the experience of other countries to ensure that the wagers would not affect social order and safety.

In Vietnam, betting is a conditional business activity, meaning that it is not encouraged and is under the strict control of State management agencies. Only enterprises with betting licences are allowed to sell gambling tickets.

The decree requires bettors to wager via authorised retail betting agencies, which can't be located within 500 meters of a school or children's park. The new decree also regulates punishment for administrative infringements on horse and dog racing and international football gambling in Vietnam.

Betting agencies who supply insufficient and inaccurate information to customers can be fined from 5 million dong to 10 million dong, while those who launder money will be fined up to 100 million dong, and their business licence suspended from three to six months.

The latest relaxation came a month after the government announced a three-year trial allowing locals to enter the country's casinos.

Under that decree, only Vietnamese aged 21 and above, who makes at least 10 million dong (S$630) a month and has no criminal record are allowed to enter casinos.

Their families can prohibit them from visiting the casinos. Locals have to pay a daily casino entry fee of one million dong, or a monthly fee of 25 million dong.

The new decree on race betting is expected to lure additional foreign investment to Vietnam. The Hanoi Tourist Corporation, for example, is seeking to build a horse racing track in the capital's suburban district of Soc Son.

The track will cover up to 180 hectares with an investment of US$500 million.

South Korea's G.O Max wants to build a US$570 million racecourse in northern Vinh Phuc Province. Other companies include Golden Turf Club Pty Ltd, with a US$100-million project in southern Phu Yen Province and Hong Kong's Matrix Holdings Ltd with a planned horserace centre in Da Nang City.

The domestic Dai Nam Group JSC recently said it would open a racecourse costing US$100 million in the southern province of Binh Duong. Construction of the racecourse, spanning 60ha, at the tourism park in the province 40km from inner Ho Chi Minh City, started last July. It includes a 30ha parking lot and a grandstand that can accommodate 50,000 to 60,000 people.