Vietnamese punters shocked as EPL, La Liga excluded from football betting law

Gamblers may only place bets on FIFA-administrated events

People watch an English Premier League game at a café in Ho Chi Minh City.

A government decree allowing Vietnamese citizens to bet on international football matches is leaving punters confused as it omits popular European championships from the list of events allowed.

The decree, effective March 31, legalizes betting activities for not only international football (soccer) competitions, but also dog- and horse-racing events for Vietnamese.

However, the rule stipulates that people are only allowed to place wagers on matches or tournaments ruled by the world football’s governing body FIFA.

This means only games and tournaments belonging to FIFA’s official system of competitions are available for Vietnamese punters to bet on.

The list consists of 24 events, with such popular tournaments as the World Cup, Women's World Cup, Confederations Cup, Summer Olympic Games, Copa America, UEFA European Championship, the Champions League and Europa League.

The English Premier League, Spanish La Liga and German Bundesliga, all much-loved by Vietnamese football aficionados, are not directly administrated by FIFA, and thus not included in the list.

With these competitions administrated by their respective national football governing bodies, experts have suggested the decree be amended to read “people are only allowed to place a wager on matches or tournaments ruled by FIFA or national affiliates under its umbrella.”

This will allow people to bet on matches in other well-known tournaments in France, Italy and countries in other continents.

If the regulation is not amended, Vietnamese gamblers will continue to turn to foreign bookmakers to place their bets illegally and Vietnam will miss the chance to benefit from the full spectrum of potential gambling taxes.

On Monday, Vuong Bich Thang, head of the Vietnam Sports Administration, said the administration was willing to listen to feedback on the football gambling rule.

Thang admitted that the English Premier League and La Liga were recognized by FIFA, but not directly administrated by the body, and thus go against the stipulation in the decree.

“We will gather suggestions as to which tournaments should be added to the list and seek a final conclusion from the prime minister,” Thang said.

Another official from the Vietnam Sports Administration, who asked not to be named, said that the only way to include more tournaments in the allowable list is to amend the decree.

“However, this will take a lot of time,” he said, implying that the solution is not viable.

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