Vietnam may legalise football betting

March 12, 2006

Saturday, March 11, 2006 E-Mail this article to a friend Printer Friendly Version

Vietnam may legalise football betting

HANOI: Vietnam may set up a legal football betting system in an effort to fight shady gambling syndicates that have tarnished the sport, officials said Friday.

The communist government is studying ways to legalise betting, which promises to bring in millions of dollars in annual revenues, with a decision due late this year, said government sports commission vice president Huynh Vinh Ai.

“The government has authorized the finance ministry to work out a project on betting,” Ai told AFP. “If this project is approved, bets on football will be officially recognized in the country.” Last month Prime Minister Phan Van Khai ordered an investigation after illegal networks were blamed for fixing matches at the 2005 Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines and in the domestic V-League. Several coaches, football officials and players are under arrest for their alleged involvement, and a government minister has been jailed, accused of looting state funds to place millions of dollars on football matches.

Ai said several different management models were now being assessed and would be presented to relevant ministries by June, with the government due to make a decision in the last three months of the year. The aim is “healthy and clean football” and to establish a betting system run separately from the Vietnam Football Federation to avoid conflicts of interest, he said. Opinions were still being sought on key details — such as the maximum value of bets, what data-processing technology would be used, and how the system could be made secure. “Money laundering will be a very worrying threat,” Ai said. “We must take steps to prevent it.” He added that the most difficult aspect would be to gauge whether public would support a legal betting system.

“We are also concerned about a great number of people bankrupting themselves through betting,” he said. “It is a thing which we must calculate well.” He added: “Personally I wish for public support because the state will be able to control and manage the bets and receive hundreds of billions of dong each year.” Deputy Finance Minister Le Thi Bang Tam said the ministry was now gathering the opinions of the ministries and sectors concerned, adding that “sports betting is a completely new field and very sensitive to the state to Vietnam.” AFP


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