2017 24 February

Vietnam Legal Update : Gambling Industry


Decree No. 03/2017/ND-CP on casino business operations

The Government has recently issued Decree No. 03/2017/ND-CP on casino business operations dated 16 January 2017 (“Decree 03”). Decree 03 will come into force on 15 March 2017.

Casino operations include the operation of gambling machines and gaming tables. A company must first obtain an Investment Registration Certificate (“IRC”) which permits casino operations and a License on the satisfaction of casino business conditions (“Casino License”) in order to legally operate a casino.

Under the Law on Investment, the Prime Minister is vested with the authority to approve investment in a casino business project. Decree 03 provides that the licensing authority will grant the IRC upon approval of the investment in the casino project, and upon the satisfaction of certain conditions. Notably, the licensing authority will only consider granting the IRC to casinos linked to tourism, services and entertainment projects which at the very least comprise hotels, service areas, tourism and entertainment areas, and events halls. In terms of minimum capital requirements, total investment in the project must be of at least USD 2 billion.

Decree 03 sets out specific conditions on the obtaining of a Casino License. The Casino License term must not exceed 20 years from the IRC issue date, although this may be extended.

Prior to the enactment of Decree 03, Vietnamese citizens were not permitted to gamble in casinos. Decree 03 now provides a pilot scheme where Vietnamese citizens may gamble in casinos that are located in tourism complexes and entertainment facilities. Vietnamese citizens must pay VND 1 million for a 24-hour casino pass or VND 25 million for a one month pass.

Decree 03 contains stipulations on location, the number of gambling machines and gaming tables, and requirements for gambling machines, gaming tables and tokens. As of this time, the implementing guidelines for Decree 03 are yet to be published.

Decree No. 06/2017/ND-CP on betting

Previously in Vietnam, betting on sporting competitions was deemed to be an illegal act of gambling. The enactment of Decree No. 06/2017/ND-CP on betting dated 24 January 2017 (“Decree 06”) which is expected to come into force on 31 March 2017 will make betting a legal activity. Nonetheless, Decree 06 makes it clear that betting is a business activity subject to strict rules and conditions, and that betting activities must not be encouraged. 

Under Decree 06, three types of betting are permitted, those on horse racing, greyhound racing and international football matches.

Decree 06 imposes conditions on companies that wish to engage in horse or dog racing betting. Amongst others, Decree 06 sets the minimum investment capital requirement for horse racing betting at VND 1 trillion, and VND 300 billion for greyhound racing. Where two or more investors wish to invest in horse or greyhound racing betting, the licensing authority will select one investor through a bidding process. A company must obtain a License on the satisfaction of conditions before engaging in horse or greyhound racing betting activities.

Currently in Vietnam, only one enterprise is permitted to engage in international football betting. This a five year pilot scheme running commencing from the issue date of the License on the satisfaction of conditions on international football betting. The company which engages in international football betting must adhere to stringent conditions, including a minimum capital requirement of at least VND 1 trillion.

Decree 06 also sets out penalties and other sanctions for the violation of betting regulations. The maximum penalty applicable to individuals is VND 100 million, while that for entities is set at VND 200 million. 

The new decrees are expected to pave the way for increased domestic and foreign investment in Vietnam’s gambling industry.

For any further information concerning this alert, please contact your usual DFDL advisor or contact;

Huynh Dai Thang
Partner, Vietnam