Vietnam’s lawmaking National Assembly ratified an amendment to its current regulations on sports, including the statute governing sports betting, on Thursday with support from 94 percent of the legislature.
The revised law on physical training and sports dictates that licensed sportsbooks will be permitted to operate within the country, though the industry will be carefully scrutinized by authorities.
Most notably, regulators will restrict bookmakers to taking bets on only select events approved by the government.
The legalization followed a decision issued in March 2017 by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism to pilot legal betting on international football tournaments, reversing the government’s policy of suppressing what it calls “a social ill.”
Specific events cited in the ministry’s decision include the 2018 FIFA World Cup, the 2018 FIFA Club World Cup, and the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup.
Most of those events are set to be held five or six months apart, meaning legal gambling opportunities will not be present throughout the entire year.
The ministry’s decision is considered a step toward realizing a decree issued by the National Assembly in early 2017 to permit betting on horse races, greyhound races, and international football matches.
Other regulations stipulated in the decree include a 21+ age restriction, a requirement that bettors must have an account with a licensed bookmaking company, and a wager limit of VND1 million (US$44) per day.
Aside from sports betting, the revised law on physical training and sports includes amendments to sections related to mass physical training and sports, physical training and sports in schools, and professional sports.
The law will take effect as of January 1, 2019.