Vietnam to legalise limited betting

October 29, 2006

   
 
Posted on 20 October 2006 – 07:47

Bets on foreign soccer matches will become legal next year in betting-crazy Vietnam, where a multi-million dollar gambling ring in a state agency led to the resignation of a cabinet minister in April. 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 soccer games.

The communist-run Southeast Asian country prohibits all forms of gambling, but illegal betting on soccer matches in England, Italy, Spain and other countries is very popular.

Officials have estimated around $1 billion is transmitted illegally every year for soccer betting.

Earlier this year, police arrested the boss of a state-owned road-building agency for running a gambling ring that bet $7 million of state money on football matches.

The Transport Minister resigned in April to take responsibility for the scandal, which led to new promises by the ruling Communist Party to fight corruption.

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 was quoted as saying in the VNExpress on-line newspaper .

Thai said the joint venture would invest around $70 million and that five foreign sports bookmakers, including a British firm, had shown interest in the project.

Initially, bets would be allowed only on overseas games and not the domestic Vietnam league, he said.

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