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Legal gambling may be on horizon

Released at: 11:20, 28/11/2016

Legal gambling may be on horizon

Photo: Viet Tuan

Draft decree to be forwarded to government in December permitting gambling on horse and dog racing and international football matches.

by Hong Nhung

Gamblers must be over 21 years of age and be of good civil standing if they want to gamble on horse and dog racing and international football, according to the second draft of a decree on the issue.

This is up from 18 years in the first draft, the second draft states, which is expected to be submitted to the government for approval in December. The second draft is now open for opinions from relevant agencies, according to the Decree Drafting Committee.

The draft decree will have minimum and maximum betting levels regulated by the government.

After a year of operations, gambling businesses will be permitted to distribute betting tickets via betting terminals and via telephones.

The Ministry of Finance (MoF) will coordinate with relevant ministries and agencies to propose and submit to the government certain cities and provinces for a pilot program on gambling on international football matches, which is not to exceed five years. The MoF must also prepare clear provisions to minimize complaints.

People related to jockeys, football players, arbitrators, managers of gambling businesses, and gambling monitoring council members are not permitted to gamble, according to the second draft.

The draft decree was first mooted about a decade ago. After a great deal of controversy, the legalization of gambling on horse and dog racing and international football matches appears to be approaching the final stages before coming into being.

The latest draft decree sets a minimum bet of VND10,000 (about $0.45) and a maximum per gambler per day on each type of betting of VND1 million (around $45).

The government announced few months ago that football gambling will be trialed for five years, both online and in betting shops, with a restricted distance of 500 meters between gambling shops and schools or children’s playgrounds. Opening hours will not be solely determined by the gambling business.

A number of both local and foreign investors are looking at investment opportunities in horse and dog racing and international football gambling. South Korea’s G.O.Max I&D Company is pursuing its $570-million project to build a horse racetrack in northern Vinh Phuc province. It even plans to increase its investment capital to $1.5 billion.

The Australian Golden Turf Club Limited Company in June received a license for a $100 million investment in a racecourse in south-central Phu Yen province. Hong Kong’s Matrix Holding Limited Company, meanwhile, proposed in July that it develop a horse racing complex in central Da Nang city. Matrix Holding plans to establish an entertainment complex consisting of a racetrack, a healthcare center, and gambling and amusement services. The total investment has not been announced but will be no less than $45 million, which is the minimum capital required under the draft decree.

In August this year, the Hanoi Tourist Corporation (Hanoitourist) and South Korea’s Global Consultant Network Company Limited (GCN) signed an investment cooperation agreement for building a five-star complex in Hanoi's Soc Son district that will include a horse racetrack. The two parties have set up a joint venture to build the racetrack, a hotel, commercial and recreation centers, and a golf course, with total investment of $500 million.

At a meeting with relevant agencies on drafting guidelines on gambling in Vietnam in early August, Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue asked the MoF to fine-tune draft guidelines on gambling on horse and dog racing and football. Football gambling will be trialed for five years, both online and in betting shops.

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