Vietnam police have broken up an illegal online gambling ring as the latest draft of the country’s new sports betting legislation makes its way to the legislature.
On Saturday, police in Ho Chi Minh City raided four apartments and arrested 132 individuals who were caught betting on football and cockfights via unauthorized websites. Local media reported that the Ministry of Public Security had been investigating the illegal operation for a month prior to launching their raids.
Sports betting is strictly forbidden in Vietnam but that restriction could be eased if and when the country finally gets around to approving new legislation. On Monday, Vietnamnet reported that the latest draft of the country’s sports betting decree is expected to be submitted to the government for approval in December.
For years now, Vietnam has been tinkering with legislation that would allow legal betting on horse and dog races and international football matches. Under the current plan, qualified operators would be issued five-year licenses, after which the government will reassess what changes are required to improve the system.
Betting would be permitted via betting terminals – which can’t be located within 500m of each other, or near schools and playgrounds – and over the telephone, as well as the vaguely defined “other means of telecommunication,” which may or may not include online betting.
The new draft raises the minimum age for Vietnamese punters from 18 to 21 years. Relatives of jockeys, footballers, gambling operators and regulators would be prohibited from wagering. There’s no indication of a means test for being allowed to wager, unlike the proposed minimum income threshold for allowing locals to enter Vietnamese casinos.
Unfortunately, the new draft also maintains the original draft’s controversial VND 1m (US $45) maximum that each punter is allowed to wager on any single day on any one type of betting. Critics have dismissed this excessively tiny limit as a virtual guarantee that Vietnamese punters will continue to seek out less restrictive options via internationally licensed betting sites.