Vietnam has moved to block widespread betting in the black market through the launch of a pilot program that allows citizens over 21 years place bets in regulated events.

Vietnamese citizens can now engage in soccer betting and horserace bets as efforts to crackdown on illegal gambling dens and online betting sites proved abortive.

The country maintained a long time ban on gambling but recently announced the move to ease the regulations. The plan is to build facilities around the country so interested people can place bets. For soccer betting, Vietnamese can only officially place bets in FIFA-recognized international games with a maximum wager of $45.

The move would limit Vietnamese citizens that were fleeing the country to place bets in Cambodian casinos, the government said.

“Changes in Vietnam gambling laws will lead to increased competition for Cambodia’s casinos and will likely affect local businesses. Cambodia’s casinos have been typically operating without much immediate regional competition.

“For Cambodian casinos, we allow all types of games online and that includes live betting, sports and lottery. While it is still a relatively new market, it attracts a lot of Vietnamese gamers,” Ros Phirun deputy director of the finance industry department said.

Phirun added that a greater threat to their country’s betting interests would be the easing of Vietnam online gambling laws. Most of the license casinos in Cambodia have online gaming portals that largely depended on Vietnamese clients.

On the other hand, analysts say the current form of the easing will now be a competition to Cambodian casinos. From March 31, only one sport-betting operator is allowed and the bets are restricted to international games. Without more investors, many feel the monopoly would not slow down the illegal bets as the government intends.