After years of stalling on a request for proposals for a sports-betting monopoly, Vietnam is moving to aggressively expand the number of football competitions permitted for bets, while flagging permission for online sales.
The Ministry of Finance confirmed with local media this week that the sole sports-betting licensee would be allowed to offer odds on 27 regular and irregular competitions, including top-flight leagues in Europe, the Americas and Asia and some marquee matches, in addition to FIFA competitions.
If the ministry’s recommendations are adopted by the justice ministry and top leaders, the exclusive licensee could also offer products over the internet, greatly enhancing the attractiveness of the market to global bookmakers, the Vietnamese-language reports said.
Fanfare over the government’s 2017 decree allowing sports betting quickly faded as it became clear that the range of products and distribution channels were too conservative for major companies to risk entering the market.
In the newly proposed amendments, customers would be able to bet on 15 regular football competitions, including European premier leagues such as in England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France, and similar competitions in the Americas and Asia.
An additional 12 irregular competitions would extend from the currently approved but limited FIFA suite of tournaments to Asian, American and European confederation competitions, as well as Olympic competitions and under-23 and under-20 tournaments.
The government is also willing to consider online sales and digital payments options, instead of forcing a monopoly holder to make do with retail outlets and traditional banking channels.
However, other formidable restrictions will remain intact at this time, including an upper daily betting limit of 1m dong ($44) per product, amid ongoing government fears of social problems.
Still, the finance ministry said this limit could be raised at the conclusion of the pilot licensee’s five-year term, as could the number of licensees.
Also unchanged are the minimum age of 21 for betting, a minimum 1trn dong ($43.7m) in investment capital and a 50 percent ownership ceiling for foreign interests.
Some of the changes this week have been known to industry insiders for a few months, but the formal announcement has had widespread coverage in the Vietnamese-language media, pointing to considerable interest in the nascent regulated market.
An industry source with knowledge of the situation told VIXIO GamblingCompliance that the government has taken notice of industry concerns.
“The key aspects of what a potentially successful modern gaming operation could look like, that maybe were problematic back in the original [decree] draft … the government has addressed that,” the source said.
“The question, ‘Do I think it’s moving in the right direction?’ … yes I do.
“Does it go far enough? Need to crunch the numbers, but certainly there were some things that [previously] made this a dealbreaker: range of distribution channels and range of products.
However, “the main problematic areas appear to have been addressed”, they said.