VietNamNet Bridge – The Vietnamese government may allow Vietnamese to enter a casino planned in the special economic zone of Van Don, signaling that it is considering whether such gaming in Vietnam should be opened to more than just foreigners.



The Ministry of Finance (MoF), in a document sent to the National Assembly Standing Committee two weeks ago, noted that the Politburo had approved in-principle the construction of an integrated casino resort in Van Don Economic Zone in the northern province of Quang Ninh, and the Vietnamese government would study whether to allow Vietnamese to enter this casino.

The National Assembly’s Committee on Finance and Budget in a report to the National Assembly Standing Committee also asked the Vietnamese government to consider allowing Vietnamese to enter the casino in Van Don.

The order comes amid government efforts to promulgate a comprehensive legal framework to manage casino businesses in the country, including the possibility of allowing Vietnamese to become customers of institutions that are now only allowed to cater to foreigners.

“Whether or not to allow Vietnamese citizens to participate in casino gaming in Vietnam is a decision for the relevant authorities, but given the trends in casino gaming internationally and in the immediate region and given the realities of Vietnamese citizens travelling abroad to participate in casino gaming, it is not unreasonable for this issue to be considered,” said Colin Pine, an industry insider.

Vietnam now has seven casinos in Quang Ninh, Lao Cai, Quang Nam, Danang, Haiphong and Ba Ria-Vung Tau provinces. Five of them have been operational and two are under construction. The total turnover of five operating casinos in 2012 was around $44 million, according to the MoF.

“It is a reality that casino gaming can be a strong tax revenue generator and it is a reality that at present Vietnamese citizens are contributing to the tax collections of countries other than Vietnam by playing in casinos located abroad,” said Pine.

The Vietnamese government is planning to call for investors for two more casinos in the southern province of Kien Giang and in Van Don Economic Zone.

Two years ago, Malaysia’s casino operator Genting Group expressed interest in investing into the casino in Van Don, after joining with asset management firm VinaCapital to invest in a $4 billion integrated casino resort in the central province of Quang Nam. However, last year Genting announced its withdrawal from Vietnam. It was said that Genting withdrew from Vietnam because the Vietnamese government did not allow Vietnamese to enter gaming facilities.

The US’ Las Vegas Sands Corporation is studying to build integrated casino resorts in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. But a source familiar with this case said the casino operator was also asking the Vietnamese government to allow Vietnamese to enter casinos as an investment condition.

Source: VIR