Vietnam moves closer to legal footbal betting

Bets on foreign football matches may become legal next year in Vietnam. Newspapers quoted the Sports Minister on Friday as saying the National Sports Committee was seeking government approval to establish a joint venture with a foreign bookmaker to provide betting services on international football games. The Communist Party-run ASEAN country prohibits all forms of gambling but illegal betting on football matches in England, Italy, Spain and other countries is very popular. According to Reuters, officials have estimated around $1 billion is transmitted illegally every year for football betting.

National Assembly lawmakers debated legalising football betting this week to meet strong public demand, but the proposal limits the amount of each bet to between 10 000 and 30 000 dong (less than US$2), officials said. "The amount will not hurt people's income, but be enough to entertain them," Sports Minister Nguyen Danh Thai said. The joint venture reportedly would invest around $70 million and five foreign sports bookmakers, including a British firm, have shown interest in the project. Initially, bets would be allowed only on overseas games and not the domestic Vietnam league, he said.