New casino rule attracts big investors, new players

A flight carrying the representative of a US-based group which runs many large casinos worldwide landed in Vietnam just days before Vietnam’s traditional Tet holiday. A closed negotiation was conducted in an effort to enter the domestic casino market.

Just days later, Decree No 03 on casino management, which allows Vietnamese to go to casinos, was issued.

Soon after the decree came out, Vietnam became a ‘hot spot’ for the US-based Las Vegas Sands, Singapore’s Banyan Tree, Australia’s Crown and Macao’s Chow Tai Fook and Sun City.

With the legal document, plus the decree on horse and dog races, and football betting, the doors to cash-prize games in Vietnam opened widely.

The move by the government is seen as a solution to stop the loss of revenue from casinos and games, estimated at $800 million. This is also expected to help stop the ‘bleeding’ of foreign currencies, estimated at $200 million a year, as Vietnamese bring foreign currencies when going abroad gambling.

The decree on casino will take effect in March, which means that investors have tens of days ahead to gear up to arrange enough capital to satisfy requirements to register casino projects.

Though the decree sets limitations to restrict the number of Vietnamese going to casino, and though the decree will be valid for three years (in the immediate time, casinos will be open to Vietnamese for three years on a trial basis), analysts show their optimism about the development of the casino industry in Vietnam.

Some casinos in the region have shown their worry that they may lose customers into the hands of the casinos to be set up in Vietnam.

They have begun talking about the flow of gamblers from Macao, who have been put under strict control since late 2016, to Vietnam. They predicted that Chinese travelers would flock to Vietnam to gamble (there were more than two million Chinese travelers last year). Meanwhile, high-end gamblers are expected to visit to Phu Quoc this year.

The statement by the representative of Las Vegas Sands during a visit to Hanoi recently showed that Vietnam, together with Singapore, will be the two strategic points of the group.

Financial experts have expressed their support to the government to open domestic casinos to Vietnamese, saying that this would help increase the state’s budget revenue.

According to the Institute for Sustainable Development under the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, if the foreign investment in the casino industry increases by $3 billion, the GDP will increase by 0.58 percent.


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