Right legislative approach for e-sports in Vietnam

17:00 | 23/05/2019

As electronic sports (e-sports) gain ground in Vietnam, they make for an exciting, and already tremendous segment of the entertainment industry – which is largely unregulated for now. Oliver Massman, general director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC, talked with Kim Oanh about the segment and rising sports-related activities, such as betting.  

right legislative approach for e sports in vietnam

What potential do you see in e-sports? Is there any future in the betting business for e-sports? Is there a risk of illegal activities like with other sports?

Online sport betting is a place of unexploited opportunities in Vietnam. You can see Vietnamese people are big fans of many sports, especially football and volleyball. Economic growth and the rise in real wages have led to more and more money ending up being placed on sporting events. Though there is no official number on the amount of money that people bet on online unofficial websites during big football events, I believe the number must not be lower than millions of dollars. Legalising online betting for sports would help reduce tax losses for the government, thus reducing public debt.

Moreover, we are now in Industry 4.0, with the fast development of Internet and social networks like Facebook and Twitter, so it is an unavoidable business trend in the future. It is important that we have sufficient regulations and management capacity to prevent illegal activities in this sector.

Vietnam does not have regulations on e-sports and betting in this sector yet. However, the government issued Decree No.06/2017/ND-CP on betting business on horse racing, dog racing, and international football. Do you think that this regulatory framework can be extended to include e-sports?

Decree 06 sets out a pilot programme for betting business on horse racing, dog racing, and international football. However, it is uncertain whether this activity will continue being permitted after the trial period – it all depends on the results of the pilot programme.

Moreover, I understand that international football betting is currently permitted only via terminal devices and telephones [that is, text messages only]. Thus, it may take several years to implement international football betting via Internet, not to mention extending the framework to online betting for other sports.

Are there any international regulations on e-sports betting? What regulations could Vietnam use to manage e-sports betting?

There is no international regulation on e-sports betting, but each country has its own set of regulations. Vietnam can have a look at China whose lottery market is split into two segments: Welfare Lottery (since 1987) and Sports Lottery (since 1994) or the UK, which is one of the most liberal – and yet highly regulated – gambling markets in the world.

It is a widely held view that e-sports target a younger audience than football, and especially horse and dog racing. How is this relevant to the regulation of e-sports and betting? Are there other fundamental differences setting e-sports apart from more traditional sports?

I believe the adoption of regulations on e-sports betting does not depend on the coverage of e-sports (young or old players).

As long as e-sports and e-sports betting have potentially negative impacts on the society, they need to be regulated.

However, it is true that the means of regulation depend on the age range of the players. Regulations guiding traditional sports betting must be different from those on e-sports betting given the difference in their nature, the extent the players can participate in the games, and interactions among players, among others.

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