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Casinos suffer heavy losses, wait for brighter days

As many as 56 businesses in Vietnam are licensed to provide prize-winning games at 63 hotels and nine casino businesses.

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Before the pandemic, business results of casinos were very modest, even when Vietnamese were allowed to enter casinos under a pilot project. Under this project, two casinos in Van Don (Quang Ninh) and Phu Quoc (Kien Giang) were approved by the Politburo to service Vietnamese players. The casino in Phu Quoc opened for Vietnamese in January 2019.

By the end of 2019, Phu Quoc casino had more than 105,000 players, including over 47,400 Vietnamese, accounting for 45%. Total accumulated revenue of Phu Quoc casino reached VND 1,433 billion, including VND 1,381 billion revenue from taxable casino business. The results of the casino business in 2019 reached more than VND 284 billion. However, according to the 2019 audited financial report of Phu Quoc Tourism Development and Investment Joint Stock Company, it incurred a loss of VND 2,529 billion, including the casino business and other business activities.

For the Ho Tram casino (Ba Ria - Vung Tau province), it reported a loss of VND 827 billion in 2017, a loss of VND 642 billion in 2018 and a loss of nearly VND 600 billion in 2019. From the time of its establishment to the end of 2019, the company had accumulated losses of VND8,780 billion. Thus, the Ho Tram casino project lost nearly VND 9,000 billion after seven years of operation.

The situation became even worse when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, and when tourism and resort facilities were operating at a standstill.

According to updated statistics of the Ministry of Finance, the revenue and tax payments of this business have decreased significantly since the outbreak of the pandemic.

In 2019, the revenue from the business of prize-winning games and casinos reached VND 11,500 billion, including VND 7,819 billion from prize-winning games and VND 3,687 billion from casinos, an increase of 23.8% and 40.8%, respectively compared to 2018.

Also in 2019, tax payment reached VND 4,095 billion, including VND 2,628 billion for prize-winning games and VND 1,467 billion form casinos, an increase of 41.8% and 63.3% compared to 2018.

Since 2020, under the impact of the pandemic, casino and prize-winning game business have been heavily affected because most of them are located in big cities and provinces such as Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, Can Tho, Kien Giang, Ba Ria - Vung Tau... where social distancing was imposed on a large scale. Up to 58 out of 63 had to close.

Accordingly, revenue from prize-winning games and casino services dropped sharply. In the first nine months of 2021, revenue reached VND 3,111 billion, including VND 2,455 billion from prize-winning games and VND 656 billion from casinos; tax payments reached VND 1,038 billion, including VND 699 billion from prize-winning games and VND 339 billion from casinos, a decrease of 30.57% over the same period in 2020 and more than 60% compared to the same period of 2019.

However, the potential is still huge for the prize-winning game and casino business in Vietnam.

Many domestic and foreign investors plan to invest billions of US dollars to revive this "smokeless industry", as the policy of allowing Vietnamese to enter casinos has brought a new look to local casinos. Van Don casino can bring excitement to the casino business in Vietnam. In order to "pave the way" for casino investment and business in Van Don (Quang Ninh), the Ministry of Finance has proposed amending and supplementing Decree No. 03/2017/ND-CP of the Government on casino business with looser regulations.

Many investors have asked the Government to direct ministries, agencies and localities to consider licensing more casinos at major tourist attractions in Vietnam such as Quang Nam, Ba Ria - Vung Tau… to serve Vietnamese players. Allowing Vietnamese people to enter local casinos is said to be a prerequisite for the success or failure.

Nguyen Ngoc My, Vice Chairman of the Association of Foreign-invested Enterprises, said: “I think it's okay to allow Vietnamese people to play at casinos. But we should ask whether they feel comfortable or not. If they are uncomfortable, instead of booking tickets to Phu Quoc, they can fly to Singapore, where they are warmly welcomed. If they enter a casino in Vietnam, they will have to sign many kinds of papers so only small players come while the big players go abroad," said My.

Luong Bang

Revenue soars, but casinos in VN still taking a loss

Revenue soars, but casinos in VN still taking a loss

Casinos are considered a ‘sensitive business’ in Vietnam. Though regulations have been loosened, they are still very strict.

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