Draft decree could legalize soccer gambling in Vietnam

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A government plan to fully legalize gambling on horse racing, dog racing and international football went to the National Assembly for consideration on Wednesday.

According to the draft, international football gambling will be the first of the three categories to be legalized.

The draft states that each bettor can bet VND1 million at most per bet.

With respect to horse and dog racing, gamblers will be allowed to bet only on the animal's finishing position. With respect to international football, betting products will include the scores of the matches, the scores at halftime, positions in a league and events during the matches.

The Ministry of Finance will decide which international football events can be bet on legally, and which cannot.

Also according to the draft, punters must place their bets through official terminals that can be contacted via phone.

Family members may stop bettors

A strict rule in the decree says that if a bettor's family member(s) -- such as their parents, spouses or children -- may ask the gambling companies to not accept bets from their relatives.

The draft decree also forbids people under 18 years old from gambling. Undocumented immigrants and people who "have restricted civil behavioral capacity" will not be allowed to place bets.

The National Assembly's Budget and Finance Committee has basically already approved the contents of the draft, but the committee wants betting amounts to be reconsidered because the VND1 million ceiling was too low.

Director of the Social Issues Committee Truong Thi Mai said the draft had not assessed the negative impacts on society and security and order. She said she was also concerned about the minimum and maximum betting amounts.

Bets too small

Mai said the minimum betting amount of VND10,000 could not limit the number of low-income  and poverty-stricken, bettors while the maximum bet of VND1 million would certainly limit the number of high rollers.

Mai also worried that the draft may not stop illegal betting, may not control the bettors and it may have bad effects on their families and society.

Director of the Justice Committee Nguyen Van Hien said the minimum betting amount of VND10,000 per product was too low and that the minimum and maximum amounts be raised to VND50,000 and VND5 million respectively.

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