Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Vietnam conference considers legal football bets

A conference on sports betting has attracted international football and gambling experts to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Windsor John, head of FIFA’s football development department in Asia, Kevin Hopgood and Alex Kovach of UK betting firm Ladbrokes and representatives from the Asian Football Confederation and Singapore Pools joined Vietamese sports and government officials in discussing “Legal football betting: good or bad? Its impact on society” at the Vietnam Football Federation organised event.

US auditing firm Deloittes has reported that Vietnamese spend US$1 billion a year on illegal football betting and a source from betting firm Singapore Pool told Thanh Nien newspaper that Vietnamese sent US$400 million a year to foreign betting markets. Under current laws this massive gambling is illegal and is seen as a corrupting influence on government and sports alike. The Vietnamese government and national parliament are therefore investigating legalised gambling to control the industry and to tax it.

FIFA's Windsor John told Vietnamese media that "to develop football, finance is necessary. If football betting is legalised in Vietnam, Vietnam football would surely have a huge source of income which would help its football develop more strongly." He noted that "football betting and sports betting are developing in the world, particularly in Europe" and, although "Vietnam needs to initiate serious research projects before legalising sport betting to avoid bad consequences on society" he recomended the Singapore Pools betting company as "a successful example" for legalising and controlling betting.

"Vietnam is a large country and Vietnamese people are keen on football. This is the most important condition for legalising football betting. I have always thought that Vietnamese football had a bright future. However, VFF needs to have correct policies. Even when football betting is allowed and money comes, football will still not develop if there are incorrect policies," he cautioned.

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