This follows a decree issued last month by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc lifting the ban on gambling by Vietnamese at local casinos.
The new decree is expected to pave the way for foreign and domestic investment in race courses and other gambling activity.
Under the decree issued last week, each gambler can place a wager with an authorised betting firm for a maximum of VND1 million (US$44) and a minimum of VND10,000 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.
The 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 VND1 trillion each, and for dog racing will be VND300 billion.
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 must be conducted in a transparent and subjective manner and protect the rights and benefits of relevant sides.
The punishment levels from VND5 million to VND10 million will be given to the betting agencies which supply insufficient and inaccurate information for customers. The violation on money laundering will be fined from VND50 million to VND100 million, even being revoked business licence from three to six months.
As for violations to betting promotions, the firms can be fined from VNĐ180 million to VNĐ200 million or revoked business licence from six to 12 months.
Hope for FDI growth
The new decree is expected to lure additional Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) 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 Danang City.
The domestic Dai Nam Group JSC recently said it would open a racecourse costing US$100 million in the southern province of Bình Dương. 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.
Nguyen Mai, the chairman of the Vietnam Association of Foreign Invested Enterprises, told baodautu.vn that this was wholesome entertainment that needs to be encouraged.