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Vietnam is a land of many beautiful places. Expats and tourists flock to the country to have a taste of an exquisite Vietnamese lifestyle. A marriage of many contrasting qualities, Vietnam’s offerings are more than just beautiful sceneries and historic landmarks. The country is also a magnet for avid gamblers.
One of the more exciting and heavily criticized yet legal gambling activities in Vietnam is greyhound racing. To date, the country only has one venue where they hold the racing. It is in the Lam Son Stadium located in Vung Tau. The Sports and Entertainment Services Joint Stock Company (formerly Sports and Entertainment Services Ltd) received a 25-year license to operate a greyhound racing circuit and facilitate racing bets. The said license will expire in 2024. The first greyhound racing held in Lam Son Stadium occurred on May 6, 2000.
The dogs used for the races are housed at a kennel complex located approximately an hour away from the stadium. The complex is also where these greyhounds are trained. Most of these racing canines were imported from Australia, where greyhound racing is also a legal sports betting event. The country is home to about 750 to 800 greyhounds that undergo training and breeding.
The chosen greyhounds all come from one tall and large hunting dog breed that originated from Ireland. A typical mature greyhound will weigh about 22 to 30 kilograms. Importing one can be quite costly as prices may go up to US$2,000 for each dog. Each dog will start their training as soon as they are four months old and weigh about 3 to 4 kilograms. To get them in top shape for the races, the canines will undergo training for five months.
A racing greyhound can have a career for about four years. After that, they are sent to retirement.
Lam Son Stadium
Address: 15 Lê Lợi, Phường 1, Thành phố Vũng Tầu, Bà Rịa – Vũng Tàu, Vietnam
Telephone Number: +84 254 3807 309
Opened on January 1, 1999, the greyhound race track hosts races every Fridays and Saturdays. There are 12 races, having 8 dogs competing with one another each race that starts at 7:15 pm and ends at 10:00 pm. The stadium can accommodate up to 5,000 fans, including its 500 VIP seats. While spectators are encouraged to come near the fence, some who choose to watch from the sidelines can do so through the many monitors spread throughout the stadium. These monitors help punters in betting and also show the race as it is happening.
The stadium is located only a few minutes away from the beach. Many of the expats who stay at the beach also make their way to the stadium for a different kind of exciting activity. The Petro Hotel is adjacent to the race track and some of their rooms even provide an amazing view of the race track.
Since the race track is open to the public and is also frequented by non-bettors, the stadium charges a minimal entrance fee costing 60,000 Vietnamese dongs or about US$2.58 per person. The fee, once paid, allows each visitor to stay in the stadium until closing time.
Dressed in racing silk cloth, hounds will race a hare replica on the 450-metre long track, which used to be a football stadium. Unlike horse races where spectators would need binoculars to get a good view of the race, greyhound races allow spectators to get close to the fence so they can have a great view. Many expats and avid racing fans come early as it can get really crowded.
Each race will have eight hounds with an average speed of 60 kilometre per hour or 30 seconds per lap going after a fake hare.
Frequenting the racetrack will introduce you to the different kinds of greyhound racing fans. There are the serious gamblers. Mostly staying in the VIP area, these gamblers are often well-dressed Vung Tau locals or HCMC visitors. They are often surrounded by brokers and are always on the top in getting the latest insider information to beat the odds. For those who are looking for a more exciting experience in the greyhound races should stay away from this area.
To get a real feel of the greyhound racing rush, it is best to go down the fence close to the track. While mostly flocked by small-time bettors, this area is where one can feel the exhilaration of the races. Expats love being on the sidelines because this is where they can interact with the locals well. Oftentimes, they end up at a local bar having a merry time after the race whether they win or not.
In the middle of the grandstand is where one can see the casual spectators. Groups of friends, couples, and families often gather here. Not all of them wager on the races but focus more on spending some quality time with their loved ones. They are often there to get a friendly atmosphere with friends and colleagues.
Greyhound racing has become a big part of Vietnam’s weekend activities. For some, it has become a family activity. The Vung Tau greyhound track is family-friendly despite being a gambling establishment. Quite fascinating actually is that many families find the racetrack atmosphere to be relaxing, particularly when there are active races. Kids can grab some ice cream or cotton candy while their parents wager on their favourite hounds. The Lam Son Stadium also features a mini petting zoo with greyhound puppies to entertain the children.
Betting on Greyhounds
The Sports and Entertainment Joint Stock Company is the sole company that regulates greyhound racing in the country. They set guidelines and rules regarding ownership and anti-doping policies.
Greyhound racing is one of the few legal gambling activities in Vietnam. Punters can place a minimum bet of 10,000 Vietnamese dongs. They should also bet while they are on track. Unlike horse races, there are no off-track betting for greyhound races. In 2012, the greyhound racing industry brought an estimated 2.3 billion Vietnamese dongs in tax revenues.
There are three types of betting options in a Vietnamese greyhound racing. This includes:
Win – the bettor must identify the runner that will finish first
Exacta – the bettor must choose the two runners that will finish first and second
Trifecta – the bettor must choose the three runners that will finish first, second, and third
Guide to Greyhound Racing in Vietnam
Upon arriving at the gate, immediately proceed to the ticket booth and secure a ticket for about 60,000 Vietnamese dongs. As soon as you are inside, you can go to the betting areas and a get information about the tote odds. There are English speaking staff inside and betting areas to assists foreign visitors and expats. Each race, a minimum bet of 10,000 Vietnamese dongs is required. The minimum bet is quite cheap that betting on almost all of the races on a particular race day will not set one back. There is no limit on the bets. You can bet as much as you want. Just remember to only bet what you can afford to lose.
Each betting day has a total of 12 races and each race has a 15-minute break to give punters a chance to assess the greyhounds and their odds of winning. This is also the time to do last-minute bet. The small amount of required bet allows many Vietnamese locals to bet on the canines. Many of them lose, a lot of them also go home as winners. Betting on dog races is more than just betting on emotions, gut feel, and superstition. Greyhounds undergo rigorous training and one of the best trick to win a bet is by getting the best insider information – how the dog was trained and its temperament.
The Growing Backlash on Greyhound Racing
Vietnam has strict gambling laws. However, their laws allow their locals to bet money on greyhound races, which, for so many years, have received negative reactions and backlash from the international community. Many animal welfare communities have expressed their strong disapproval of the races. They believe that dogs are treated inhumanely and are subjected to too much training at a very young age. As calls for halting any greyhound racing activities are heightened it was recently revealed that Nguyen Ngoc My is planning to build more greyhound race tracks in Vietnam, particularly in Ha Tinh Province.
Nguyen Ngoc My used to import greyhounds from Australia but has now grown to become an independent breeder of greyhounds. The government of Vietnam has previously given My a 25-year license to operate greyhound race tracks in the country. The businessman is also introducing greyhound racing in Cambodia where he was given a 30-year license.