Vietnam: new page of the gaming industry

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The ruling Communist Party of Vietnam has recently made it clear that it supports the creation of a new gaming industry and will allow local Vietnamese to enter designated casinos on a trial basis.

Prof. Augustine Ha Ton Vinh, Senior Advisor to the Van Don Special Economic Zone and Integrated Resorts, commented about the new legislation with brief overview of the situation.

In June 2013, the Party’s Politburo announced it supported a new Special Economic Zone and integrated resort on Van Don Island, situated in the UNESCO World Heritage Ha Long Bay. Along with its support, the Politburo commissioned research to assess the socio-economic impacts of allowing local Vietnamese to enter casinos. After three years of soul searching and policy debates, the ruling party’s leaders believe now is the time to move ahead, creating a new gaming industry.

Vietnamese Government authorities made clear a number of issues of great interest to investors, operators and local Vietnamese, namely:

1. Local Vietnamese will be allowed to visit designated casinos.
2. Van Don and Phu Quoc integrated resorts are the two locations authorized to accept local Vietnamese on a 3-year trial basis.
3. In addition to the four already approved locations for Integrated Resorts: Van Don, South Hoi An, Ho Tram, and Phu Quoc. Two more integrated resorts are under consideration: in Hue and Cam Ranh Bay.
4. Total investment for an integrated resort is US$2 billion. A minimum $1 billion has to be disbursed before a gaming license is granted.
5. Smaller casinos can be expanded, upgraded to a higher IR level if they meet financial and other requirements, e.g. significant contributions to local economic and tourism development.
6. The new and revised draft gaming casino has to be finalized as soon as possible.

Since Van Don is near the China border in the North and Phu Quoc is close to Thailand and Cambodian borders in the South, having local Vietnamese in these two locations will definitely help attract much needed foreign investment to these areas which bear some resemblance to rural Macau in the past, and will help expedite the creation of the two special economic zones. I believe, under this new decision, local Vietnamese will not be allowed to enter Ho Tram, at least for the next few years.

Text & photo: Augustine Ha Ton Vinh

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