The government of Vietnam is once again considering legalizing some form of sports betting lottery, according to Tuoi Tre News. The Ministry of Finance has reportedly finalized draft legislation it originally cooked up in 2010, when the government chose not to pass it on to the National Assembly for a vote, opting instead to send the bill back to the Ministry for further research. Since then, the Ministry has investigated similar sports lottery systems in jurisdictions such as Singapore and Malaysia.
Before anyone gets too excited, this is hardly the first time Vietnam has flirted with the idea of legal sports wagering. In 2006, UK bookies Ladbrokes made a concerted pitch to act as Vietnam’s partner in setting up a sports lottery system, but the government never followed through with the necessary legislation. While the income stream from sports betting would likely be considerable in a footie-mad nation of 90m people, the Ministry insists the primary intention behind the push for legalization is not revenue-generation but to create a public and transparent system to minimize social harms. As such, it is recommending that a daily cap of VND 1m (US $48) be placed on sports betting wagers.
The absence of a legal sports betting option has led Vietnamese punters to seek out non-sanctioned options, including street corner bookies and the multitude of international online gambling operators beaming their signals into the country. Vietnam permits wagering on horse and dog races and even on buffalo fights (!), but betting on human sports is a different story. The government’s anxiety over the issue was reportedly raised after international online bookies began offering wagers on Vietnam’s top-tier V-League football matches. The new attitude appears to be based on the timeless concept that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.