Asia is the largest hub for the gambling industry after North America. China and Singapore already have a flourishing market have been acting as inspiration for Vietnam. Despite gambling being in the culture since old times, Vietnam had a closed view on the concept since it attracts criminal activities like drugs and trafficking.
It was only till 2017, and the rules were stringent for the locals. But now, the Vietnamese market is gradually opening up with an increasing number of licensed casinos such as Gclub and 777 Casino.
Origin of Gambling in Vietnam
The earliest accounts of gambling come from Mesopotamia in 3000 BCE and the famous Indian epic Mahabharata. It is known to be about 4000-5000 BC old. Both were dice games. There was no concept of cards or wheels.
In Vietnam, the earliest gambling game consisted of three dices, known as the Bau Cua Ca Cop. It was invented by the rice paddy peasants of North Vietnam. Players wagered on animal symbols like crab, fish, deer, tiger, and shrimp. It resembles today’s roulette but, now it is called Ho Hey How.
Other gambling games that could be compared to sports betting of contemporary time are fish fighting and cockfighting games. People would bet on the animal they think can win. Finally, there used to be a showdown attracting quite some crowd. There were dedicated sellers for these special combat animals. Betting on modern-day horse racing started in Vietnam in 1893.
Is the market crowded?
Vietnam has an emerging market rather than a crowded one. Before the 5-year pilot project of the government in 2017, locals were prohibited from participating in any gambling. It was only open to foreign tourists. Now locals are allowed in the casinos if they fulfill the criteria about age and annual income.
There are only eight active casinos in Vietnam. Yet, there has been a 60% increment in revenue in 2019. In the same year, the Corona Resort in Phu Quoc, a luxurious property with physical casino availability, reported 105,200 visitors, out of which 45% were Vietnamese. Corona Resort’s revenue was $61.7 million, accounting for over 60% of the whole market.
This data was only from one casino where the locals weren’t prohibited. The other major resorts with casinos like Royal International Corporation and Aristo International Hotel and Casino witnessed a fall in revenue due to the COVID-19. It shows that the locals are the driving force for the gambling business. By loosening the restrictions, the Vietnamese government can cope up with the loss in the pandemic.
Whereas Vietnam has just a few casinos that foreigners or tourists can only access. Passport verification is mandatory. Physical casinos are developed in high-end luxurious hotels situated in Ho Chi Minh City, Saigon, Phu Quoc, and other places.
They have a vibrant nightlife and outstanding hospitality to attract wealthy tourists. They have slot machines, Caribbean stud poker, roulette, baccarat, and plenty of other options. So if the confusion is whether gambling is illegal in Vietnam, it is not. But it is highly restrictive for the locals.
Only Phu Quoc Corona Casino is accessible for Vietnamese players. Otherwise, if caught anyone indulging in it illegally, he may face imprisonment. Despite this, informal betting in European soccer matches is prevalent among the locals.
Cambodian casinos on the border have many regular players from Vietnam which, the government desperately wants to cease as it is draining the Vietnamese currency. It also shows the ineffectiveness of the foreign policies of the Vietnamese government.
How good are local online casinos?
In Vietnam, there is a myriad of online casino establishments that offer great wagering options. However, running a Vietnamese gambling site is illegal. The authorities took measures to prohibit such sites.
If you come across a gambling site for casino and sports betting of Vietnamese origin, it is probably running unauthorized. When it comes to online casinos, Vietnamese resort to VPN connections. VPN is not illegal. Hence, it solves the issue of not getting access to overseas casino sites.
The government is currently working on enabling football betting. It wants to encourage investment in the nation’s sports sector while also reducing widespread illegal gambling. Land-based casinos are way better than online casinos in terms of security.
The quality of the service provided is outstanding as most of the casinos are based in luxurious resorts with all kinds of amenities and comfort.
Can foreigners play on local casino sites?
Gambling in Vietnam is still a well-organized activity. However, there are so many ways to place bets since the government is only concerned with the local establishments. The companies that offer online casinos and are open to the Vietnamese people hold licenses from different countries. So there are no constraints for them.
Tourists or foreigners in Vietnam for a while and interested in gambling can also play in online casinos. There are plenty of them prime in Vietnam that function freely despite the government’s efforts to block access to the sites.
Some of the popular casino sites operating in Vietnam are,
If you are a foreigner in Vietnam and wish to take the legal road for gambling, you can either go to the land-based casinos or indulge in the state-run lottery.
The population of Vietnam is overwhelmingly huge, and a significant number of people are engaged in gambling informally. With proper structure and by opening the market, Vietnam will bring revenue and become a hotspot for ethical gambling.