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Vietnam moves to allow sports betting as World Cup kicks off

Government hopes to stop outflow of money via international websites

Vietnamese soccer fans celebrate after the victory of Vietnam's under-23 soccer team against Qatar in the Asian Cup semifinals.   © Reuters

HO CHI MINH CITY -- Vietnam's National Assembly on Thursday approved a new law that allows locals to bet on soccer matches held overseas, as the World Cup 2018 kicked off in Russia on the same day.

Sports betting, including soccer matches, has been deemed illegal for decades in the communist-led country, prompting many fans to place their wagers through international websites. The latest move to legalize betting is meant to prevent money from flowing out of the country. The illegal betting market in Vietnam is estimated to be worth billions of dollars each year. The police last year discovered several illicit soccer-betting rings and online gambling worth more than $300 million.

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