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How to start an online casino in Vietnam in 2024: gambling industry overview

May 5, 2023
6 min

Vietnam is one of Asia’s most promising markets. With a strong and growing economy, and public attitude warming up towards gambling, this country has a lot to offer to iGaming investors.

While massive markets like China and India draw plenty of attention, the Asia-Pacific region is home to plenty of other valuable gambling markets. Read on to learn about the business opportunities waiting in Vietnam.

Vietnam’s turquoise waters, sandy beaches, and breathtaking mountains have made the Southeast Asian country (justifiably) a massive hit with tourists. But behind the idyllic image is one of the region’s most economically and technologically advanced nations.

Overall, Vietnam’s economy is solid and growing. The country’s GDP reached $366.1 billion in 2021, with a GDP per capita of $3756 (according to the World Bank). Given the region’s overall projected growth, that number should continue to rise as Vietnam marches on in lockstep with its neighbors.

The country is also developing in leaps and bounds when it comes to internet penetration and mobile subscription rate: the overall number of internet users has soared from 54% in 2017 to 74% in 2022.

Asia has also seen a significant shift in attitude towards gambling, particularly in Vietnam. Though gambling has long been strictly prohibited, authorities are changing their attitude, and the issue of legalization frequently surfaces in official discourse (though full regulation is still likely not in the near future).

Land-based gambling regulations

Gambling has not always been a taboo in Vietnam.

It was only after the advent of communist rule in the second half of the 20th century that the gambling industry was shut down abruptly in an attempt to eradicate capitalism-inspired practices. All types of gambling were prohibited under threat of hefty fines or imprisonment from two up to seven years, in the case of particularly high bets. The only exception were the perennially popular lotteries.

Until recently, the only functional gambling vertical in Vietnam were casinos that would only allow foreign citizens (basically, tourists) to play. These are predominantly located in upscale tourist resorts such as The Grand Ho Tram Strip, the largest casino resort in Vietnam. However, it seems that the Vietnamese government began to see more advantages in regulating the industry rather than combating the black market, which flourished (as always) in the absence of a regulated market.

A green light for gambling

Authorities took a step towards regulating the industry in 2017 by introducing a pilot project which allowed locals to attend foreigner-only casinos. The project designated two casinos where the citizens of Vietnam would be allowed to enter and play under certain restrictions.

Vietnamese players must be 21 years old, earn at least $400 a month, and have a clear criminal record. They must also pay an entrance fee and use an electronic card to trace their gambling activities. Despite these obstacles, the project was so popular that the number of Vietnamese players at these locations quickly reached 65% of all visitors.

The first trial program was scheduled to be wrapped up in early 2022, but it is reported that local gamblers are still being welcomed to casinos. Media sources also report that the Ministry of Finance has proposed extending the program for two more years and two more casinos, because the project could now show its true potential due to the pandemic shutdown.

Another vertical that was given the green light amid harsh restrictions is land-based betting.

A five-year pilot program similar to the one with casinos was introduced in 2017, with conditions no less strict: punters were allowed to place bets not higher than $44 and only on FIFA-sanctioned events. In the end, though, not a single betting operator applied to participate in the project. Illegal betting, on the contrary, revived during the last two world cup tournaments, generating over $10 billion in annual turnover.

Attitude towards gambling

Gambling’s ancient roots in Vietnam may explain why players take things into their own hands.

Despite the strict regulations, the Vietnamese are very passionate about gambling — in fact, it is embedded in their culture. A game called bầu cua cá cọp is traditionally played at family gatherings on the Vietnamese New Year. The game has been an intrinsic part of Vietnamese culture for so long its origins can’t even be traced.

Allowing only tourists to visit casinos is a common regulatory model throughout East and Southeast Asia. Vietnamese players travel to Cambodia, Macau, Singapore, and Hong Kong, and citizens of those countries do the same. Areas of Cambodia close to the Vietnamese border, in particular, are dotted with casinos, which Vietnamese players can visit without even needing a visa.

As you might have guessed, apart from gambling tourism, there is another, much more convenient alternative to play — iGaming.

iGaming regulations in Vietnam

Online gambling in Vietnam is still entirely prohibited, but historically, that’s never been much of an issue for players, who usually prove to be very resourceful when it comes to accessing offshore gambling platforms.

The numbers generated by the black and gray markets speak to the niche’s popularity. In 2022, police busted a gambling ring that attracted over $1.2 billion in bets, and this was far from being an isolated case. Offshore gambling platforms also receive millions of dollars in wagers from Vietnamese gamblers, who have successfully learned to clear the hurdle of blocked websites by using VPNs.

Market demand

To successfully attract and retain Vietnamese players, it is essential to adjust the offering of your online casino to local tastes.

We have already mentioned above that there are specific local games preferred by the Vietnamese: bầu cua cá cọp, a dice game, and xóc đĩa, a token game. Another building block in your casino content should be live games, which are massively popular throughout the region. Lastly, don’t forget about the classics — slots, blackjack and baccarat would be the choices for an online casino in Vietnam.

The Vietnamese are also highly enthusiastic about sports betting, including soccer, basketball, futsal, Australian rules football, horse and greyhound racing, and esports.

There are certain expectations in terms of payment methods as well. The population of Vietnam is largely unbanked, relying on e-wallets or cryptocurrencies. The most common ones are ZaloPay, ShopeePay (AirPay), Momo, Moca, and Viettal Pay. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash are also a popular alternative to fiat money, with more than 20 million people owning at least one of the above.

How can Slotegrator help?

Rather than trying to juggle all of these essentials, you could delegate the labor-intensive process of building a fully fledged online casino to Slotegrator. As a one-stop-shop software supplier, Slotegrator has you covered for every stage of development, from game content and payment system integration to the development of a complete platform.

Slotegrator has partnership agreements with all major game providers in the iGaming industry, who altogether offer more than 15,000 games, all of them available for integration through our APIgrator solution in just one session. In addition, our team will always keep you updated on the new releases and give recommendations for your target market.

Slotegrator offers a turnkey gaming platform development solution with easy-to-use interface builder, comprehensive analytics on your project, and bonus and KYC modules. Or, to launch your gambling project even faster and easier, opt for our White Label solution and get your business structure, full customer support and an opportunity to operate under our Curacao sublicense.

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