Sports Betting Online in Laos
Across Southeast Asia online betting is now very popular. However, while many internet bookies will service us, none cater specifically to Lao PDR residents. The legit options support neither our language nor our currency. We are the only ASEAN member nation where this is the case. This makes online betting from Laos slightly challenging. It can still be done and in this article I explain how.
Using Thai Bookies
If you live near a Lao-Thai Border this information might be helpful to know first:
www.dafabet.com is a reputable bookie with a large number of Thai customers. They are based in the Philippines and also accept Lao PDR residents. They allow players to use a Laos address and phone number to register a betting account that uses Thailand Baht as the currency. With this account, the method for depositing and getting paid is local (Thai to Thai) bank transfer. If you already have, or are able to open, a Thai bank account – this can be a viable option for betting online.
www.ladbrokes.com is a UK bookmaker that supports English, Thai, French, Chinese and many other languages. While they offer multiple currencies, at Ladbrokes it is very important Lao PDR residents select “UK Pounds Sterling” (GBP) as their preferred currency. This allows us the ability to deposit to their website using Western Union which is a person to person (P2P) cash transfer service.
For Western Union transfer you can bring Laos Kip (LAK) to an agent location. They will exchange and transfer that money to Ladbrokes in UK Pounds. Western Union locations are located in Entreprise Des Postes LAO post offices and in the branches of Lao Development Bank, Bank of Ayudhya, Indochina Bank, St Bank, Phongsavanhbank, Agricultural Promotion Bank, Lao-Viet Bank and Acleda Bank. You can see a full list of Western Unions in Lao as well as their addresses here.
Note: Along with the Western Union transfer form, an outward international remittance request form must be completed too. Sadly, some agents decline the transfer without even seeking approval as they prefer only dealing only with receivers not senders. Sometimes better luck can be had at smaller shops such as Saikhong Company (Saikhong trading imp-exp co). It is however quite common that residents of Vientiane, cross the border and make their transfers in Nong Khai as the process is simpler in Thailand.
There are other options for depositing to online betting sites without leaving Laos. I cover these as part of the next section which is a guide to using bookies from our country.
Laos Online Betting Guide
If you are new to online gambling be aware that legitimate online bookies operate on what is called a “post-up basis”. This means you need to deposit in order to start betting online. There is no credit given by online bookmakers. For example: if you deposit 700,000 ກີບ this is your starting account balance. If you then stake 200,000 ກີບ that Vientiane FC wins a Lao League match, your balance immediately becomes 500,000 ກີບ. If Vientiane FC ends up winning the match the 200,000 ກີບ stake is returned to your account and the winnings are added too.
The above was a simplified example because most online bookies do not offer odds on Lao League and none offer accounts in Lao Kip (LAK). You can however bet on leagues from all over the world. For football this includes EPL, Lique 1, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and many more. It also includes Asian leagues from our neighboring countries Thailand, China and Vietnam and the major tournaments including the European Championships and World Cup. You can bet on our own national teams too when they play in international friendlies and various qualifiers. Of course, besides football betting, there is also betting on other sports such as tennis, badminton, volleyball, cricket, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing, MMA, Formula 1 and much more.
Using Bet365 in Laos
For punters investing at least 700,000 ກີບ to fund their betting account www.bet365.com is the best option. They are the world’s largest online bookmaker, are based in the United Kingdom and own the football franchise Stoke City (referred to as the Potters by their fans) of the English Premier League.
What is cool about Bet365 is that anyone with a funded account can watch high quality live sports streams right from the Bet365 website. Live in-play betting is available on all matches they stream. The betting markets are far more than just match winner, handicap, and totals. Their in-play wagering options include next team to score, total corners, penalty cards, correct score and much more.
Important: Immediately after opening a Bet365 account, it is a good idea to contact them via their website chat support and ask them to change your account currency to Thai Baht. This will save you a lot of money in bank fees. This change must be made before you make your first deposit.
The best way to deposit to Bet365 is with bank wire transfer. This method is expensive if not done correctly. I have personally found that BCEL (Banque pour le Commerce Exterieur Lao) has the best rates for sending international bank transfers to the United Kingdom in Thai baht. If you don’t have a BCEL account you should open one. When going to your branch to make the transfer, tell them you want to send in THB currency and would like to use STANDARD CHARTERED BANK (THAI) PCL with Swift code: SCBLTHB as the intermediary. If this is not possible, ask them which option might be the cheapest.
The reason I said this is a good option for those investing at least 700,000 ກີບ is because of the Bet365 bonus. Sending an international wire is not free and has a small charge associated with it. So it is not worth it for anyone sending very small amounts. However, these fees are offset by the fact Bet365 matches initial deposits 100% up to 2500 Baht free. In exchange for accepting this bonus, users must wager their deposit plus bonus amount 3-times prior to withdrawal. After meeting this condition, at any time you can withdraw all or part of your account balance. You can request this online from the Bet365 cashier and they will pay you via wire transfer to your Lao bank account.
Using MoneyGram Lao
MoneyGram is a competitor to Western Union that offers the same service and generally has lower fees. You can find their agents at BCEL (Banque Pour Le Commerce Exterieur Lao), Thai Military Bank, Joint Development Bank, SCB and SC Money Transfer branches. This is a popular method for transferring to Caribbean based bookies. You can find the nearest Moneygram office on their website.
The one I recommend the most to anyone that can read English is www.5dimes.eu. Their site offers accounts in United States dollars, but you can still bring Lao Kip to the MoneyGram agent to have them transfer USD to 5Dimes.
High stakes bettors please note: 5Dimes covers the fees on deposits over $250 US (about 1,937,000 ກີບ). For example, if you send $250 US – there might be a $25 US fee sending charge. 5Dimes will make your account balance $275 ($250 deposit + $25 fee) in order to cover the fee amount for you. It is of course possible to deposit less but 5Dimes does not cover the fee unless the deposit is at least USD $250.
When you want to get paid from 5Dimes you can request a MoneyGram payout. For this, there is a small fee which 5Dimes does not cover. However, when requesting a payout on Mondays between 9:00 AM EST and 1:00 PM EST (EST is USA’s New York City time zone) you will get a free payout (up to $40 in fees covered). Please note you can only get one free Moneygram payout per 30 days.
The free monthly MoneyGram payout alone makes 5Dimes a great bookie for Lao PDR residents. However, they also have the lowest margin odds in sports betting which means great value for punters. The only downside is that their website is only available in English language. If you are not fluent in English you might need to use Google translate to help understand some of the betting related terms on their website.
Is Online Betting Legal
At one time the only form of legal sports betting in Laos was the Laotian Sports Lottery. This had been created to increase our competitiveness in international sports competitions. However, to this day our country has never won an Olympic Medal in any sport. In football we’ve never qualified for the AFC Asian Cup or the FIFA World Cup and have only 2 wins in a total of 31 matches played at the ASEAN Championship.
There was also an issue that Laotian Sports Lottery had low sales. To combat this government officials were required to purchase tickets. It had long been argued this was an added tax. Meanwhile our continued poor performance in sports competitions led to increased criticism. Demands to know whether the money was actually getting to the athletes and teams started to mount. As a result the sports lottery was cancelled in 2007.
Gambling is extremely popular in Laos and real money is bet by local people every day of the week.
Because we no longer have a legal lottery, sports betting is now seen as unlawful gambling, as covered in Article 83 of our penal law. This is however not well enforced. Sports betting is hugely popular in our country. Muay Lao (unarmed martial art) is obviously #1.
Muay Lao was previously part of the Southeast Asian games. In its final installment (2009 in Vientiane) we won 9 medals in 12 events (5 Gold, 3 Silver and 1 Bronze). Of course, international competition is not needed for Muay Lao betting. This is a daily occurrence at the fights and for televised bouts. During the week the fights on TV are often from Thailand, and the ones on the weekends are Lao. For these, betting is done with friends and local bookies.
Fighting that does not involve human participation is also popular for betting. In Laos we have cockfighting where the cocks are not equipped with blades so they often survive the bouts. Survival is often the case in beetle fights too which are a popular gambling sport in ethnic-Tai areas of Laos. Also popular is fish fight betting, which unlike the other sports mentioned are fights to the death.
In Laos we also bet plenty on human sports too. ka-taw (ກະຕໍ້) and Pétanque are especially popular here. We also love betting on football, even though our national team has never achieved any success (not yet anyway).
As for the law: gambling is widespread in Laos and the law is rarely enforced. In the very rare times the police get involved, the fine is generally 200,000 Kip or can be settled by negotiating with the police on the spot.
For me, using an illegal bookie is a much bigger concern, because they might not pay when you win. Because betting is not regulated in Laos, gambling debts are non-enforceable. This is the danger of using Lao bookies. It is far safer to use online betting sites such as the ones mentioned on this page. Bet365 and Ladbrokes are good examples. These are major bookmakers that are legal and regulated in the United Kingdom. When you make a winning bet with these bookies, you will always get paid. For most Laotian punters, it is well worth taking the steps required to set up an online betting account.