The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is located in the eastern part of the Indochinese Peninsula, stretching over 311,700 square kilometers. The country attracts foreign visitors with its rich history, unique cuisine, buzzy cities, and magnificent pagodas. Gambling is another form of entertainment you can pursue here as the local government has started to gradually warm toward these activities.
All forms of betting were prohibited during the communist regime as the government considered them a capitalist pursuit. Vietnamese authorities slowly started to loosen the restrictions and recently legalized certain betting activities in an effort to tackle unlawful gambling. Nonetheless, the legal climate remains harsh in the country.
Vietnam has legal lotteries but these are subject to the government’s monopoly. Wagering on horse and greyhound races is also possible on state-owned racetracks like those located in the capital Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (better known as Saigon). Landbased casino gaming is legal as well, with Ho Chi Minh City hosting the greatest number of gambling facilities.
However, these venues are mostly open to visitors of the country with foreign passports. Vietnamese law initially prohibited locals from entering the gaming premises altogether. The authorities then changed their stance as part of a three-year experiment, permitting the entry of locals but on certain conditions.
In 2018, the national legislature approved a new bill that legalized sports wagering under the government’s regulatory oversight. Online gambling remains illegal at the time of publication and by the looks of it, it will remain so in the years to follow. If interested to know more about gambling regulation in Vietnam, stay with SuperCasinoSites as we explore the laws that govern betting in the country.
Laws That Govern Casino Gambling in Vietnam
Landbased casino gambling was initially an option only for foreign passport holders until the passage of Decree Nº 03/2017/ND-CP in January 2017. Under this legislation, Vietnamese nationals can enter casino gaming facilities and gamble there provided they meet certain criteria. The Decree states operators can host casino games if they have obtained the necessary licenses from the competent local authorities.
Laws on Sports Betting in Vietnam
1Decree Nº 06/2017/ND-CP
In January 2017, the Vietnamese government passed Decree Nº 06/2017/ND-CP as part of a five-year trial program for legal wagering on greyhound races, horse races, and international soccer. Operators must meet various strict conditions before they can legally accept wagers on these sporting events. There are restrictions on the markets authorized entities can offer to Vietnamese punters.
2Permitted Soccer Markets
Article 6 of the Decree restricts legal wagering to matches and competitions that FIFA (the body that governs international soccer) officially recognizes. These include events from the Europa League, the World Cup, and the Champions League, among others. Vietnam’s Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has the responsibility of issuing a full list of permitted competitions for international soccer betting.
3Daily Wager Limits per Customer
The minimum age requirement for punters is 21 years old. Individuals who are directly involved in racing or soccer events are prohibited from betting. The ban extends to soccer players, referees, jockeys, and their close family members. Sports betting businesses can legally accept wagers ranging from ₫10,000 to ₫1 million per day for a single customer. The payout percentages of the bets should be no less than 65%.
4No Sports Betting over the Internet
Authorized entities can take bets through terminal devices (on-course and off-course), landline and mobile telephones. However, Decree Nº 6 expressly excludes the sale of betting tickets over the internet or via mobile applications. Betting enterprises might also use designated booths for selling the tickets as long as they are at least 500 meters away from public playgrounds or schools.
5Designated Accounts for Telephone Bettors
The operators can take wagers on horse and greyhound races within twelve hours before their beginning. Each Vietnamese bettor must have a designated account intended specifically for placing wagers with the organizers of telephone betting. Account holders should provide their three names, birthdate, address, and ID/passport number.
As for capital requirements, the organizers of horse racing and soccer betting must comply with a threshold of ₫1 trillion (approximately US$44 million). Those who take wagers on greyhound races must meet a capital requirement of ₫300 billion (around US$13 million).
6Provincial Committees for Race Oversight
Each Vietnamese province that authorizes horse race betting must set up a special committee for race oversight whose task is to observe for and ensure compliance with the above-mentioned requirements. Article 4 of Decree Nº 06/2017/ND-CP expressly outlaws leasing or transferring the betting eligibility certificates. Respectively, operating a betting company with a suspended or revoked certificate also violates Vietnamese law.
Gambling Advertising and AML Policies in Vietnam
Only businesses that hold casino and betting eligibility certificates can legally advertise their products and services in Vietnam. All marketing content released by the gambling companies must comply with the country’s laws on advertising. The ads must contain the name of the gambling enterprise and specify who is eligible to engage in the casino games under the provisions of Article 11 and Article 12 of Decree Nº 03.
Furthermore, the law restricts marketing activities only to sign boards and panels located on the gaming floor. The advertising content should not be visible or audible for individuals who are not on the premises. Certified casino operators can also advertise their services during entertaining programs on international flights as well as on international airports.
Certified sports wagering businesses can advertise themselves only at racetracks and designated booths for betting ticket sale. In 2021, the Vietnamese government passed Decree Nº 70/2021/ND-CP as a means of enforcing greater control over cross-border advertising via platforms like Facebook and Google Play. Said platforms are expected to remove any content that violates the new decree, including pages and ads that promote online gambling.
Certified casino operators must adopt and implement adequate measures to prevent illegal financial transactions in line with Law Nº 07/2012/HQ13 on money laundering prevention. They should cooperate with the State Bank of Vietnam and the Vietnamese Ministry of Finance, reporting all suspicious money transfers to the authorities.
Sanctions for Violation of Vietnam’s Gambling Laws
Vietnam’s authorities impose various sanctions on business entities and individuals who violate the country’s gambling laws. Casino operators who contravene the local legislation and regulations face pecuniary sanctions in the form of administrative fines, ranging from ₫100 million to ₫200 million. Repeated violations might result in the suspension of the casino eligibility certificates.
Those who counterfeit or falsify their documents when applying for a certificate risk fines of ₫20 million to ₫50 million. Businesses that operate with falsified certificates suffer pecuniary penalties of ₫40 million to ₫60 million when caught. Transferring or leasing out one’s certificate comes with higher fines of up to ₫150 million.
Licensees might also have their certificates suspended for three to twelve months depending on the severity of their contravention. The fines for casino businesses that altogether operate without valid certificates can reach ₫200 million.
Entities that operate more gaming machines and tables than the number prescribed in their certificates will suffer penalties to the amount of ₫200 million. The same goes for businesses that allow Vietnamese nationals to enter their gaming premises without meeting the entrance criteria outlined in Decree Nº 03/2017/ND-CP.
Online Gambling in Vietnam
Vietnam has started to liberalize its gambling laws in recent years, but is yet to legalize online gambling. Yet, this does not prevent offshore operators with foreign licenses from accepting Vietnamese registrations. Some foreign websites cater to customers from the country with an interface in Vietnamese and payments in the local currency VND.
The overly restrictive sports betting legislation causes many Vietnamese punters to join foreign online sportsbooks where they face a greater diversity of markets and events. The illegal sports wagering industry in Vietnam has grown tremendously as a result of the restrictions. Estimates suggest locals punt $US10 million each year on soccer games alone.
The country’s government combats illegal wagering by blocking the domains of offshore operators that target Vietnamese customers. One example of this practice comes from 2012 when the authorities ordered local internet service providers to block over 180 gambling domains just before the start of Euro 2012.
Some locals try to circumvent the restrictions by masking their IP addresses via virtual private networks (VPNs). Nonetheless, this approach rarely works since many offshore licensed gambling operators prohibit the use of VPNs. Even if a Vietnamese customer manages to hide their real location, they still have to verify their identity and residence before they can withdraw their winnings.
Vietnam authorities have recently relaxed their stance on gambling, but the country is still light years away from having a developed and thriving industry. The biggest hurdle here is the lack of interest on behalf of gambling operators. Many remain reluctant to start a legal business in Vietnam due to the overly complex bidding process for certificates and the high nominal capital requirements.
The restrictions on casino entry and the limited sports betting markets hardly improve the situation. As a result, locals with an appetite for gambling resort to using the services of overseas online operators, causing an outflow of taxable money from the country (and violating Vietnamese law in the process). While it is impossible to deny Vietnam has made some progress in recent years, the government must further relax its stance for the local gambling industry to flourish.