Decree allows casino access for locals

The first-ever permission for Vietnamese citizens to gamble in the country-based casinos will now open the door widely for foreign investment to rush into this lucrative industry.

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The government’s new move will facilitate Vietnamese citizens to engage in legal gambling in the country-based casinos, first within a three-year trial period Photo: Le Toan

The government finally issued its Decree 03/2017/ND-CP last Friday to regulate casino business activities for Vietnamese residents, following almost 10 years reviewing and drafting regulations regarding such business.

Casinos currenlty in operational in Vietnam

- Hong Van Casino in the northeastern province of Quang Ninh’s Mong Cai city

- Hai Ninh Loi Lai Casino in Mong Cai, incorporated within the Hai Ninh Loi Lai Hotel premise

- Do Son Resort Hotel

- Royal Ha Long Hotel, located in Quang Ninh’s Ha Long Bay, in the heart of the Bai Chay Tourist Centre occupying some 30 hectares of land along the coastal line. The real estate project was a joint venture initiated by Royal International Corp and a Taiwanese company in 1994. In 2006 it went public and got listed on the Vietnam Stock Exchange, and in 2007 the stock was officially traded. Kai Chieh International Investment now owns the shareholding of Royal International Corportation. The Royal Ha Long Hotel offers 13-storey five-star hotel having 163 rooms, and 11 villas consisting of 134 rooms. The Gaming Club has table games and 70 slots, as well as seven VIP rooms.

- Phoenix Internation Club near Hanoi is currently operated by Silver Heritage Group in northern Bac Ninh province. It began with six tables, 53 slots and 38 rooms. However in 2015, it was moved to a new hilltop resort. Currently it offers 1,500 square meter of gaming space with 12 tables, 72 slots, 34 rooms and seven VIP suites. The Silver Heritage Group was founded in 2003 and has grown from a supply and slot management company across Asia to casino operation in Nepal, Vietnam and Laos.

- Aristo International Hotel is a boutique casino in the northern city of Lao Cai. Established in 2002, it is a joint venture project with the government and Donaco International.

- Grand Casino, Ho Tram Trip opened in 2013 which offers over 500 slots and 90 table games, in addition to VIP rooms.

The most salient point of the decree, which is scheduled to take effective on March 15, 2017, and has long been yearned by existing casino businesses and potential investors, is that for the first time, Vietnamese citizens will be allowed to place their bets in casinos for a trial period of three years, from the date the first casino operator successfully obtains their license for Vietnamese gambles.

The trial casino entry opens for Vietnamese who must be at least 21 years old, have a monthly regular income of minimum VND10 million ($454.5), and are capable of civil actions.

Oliver Massmann General director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC

Mid to high income people in Vietnam are predicted to double by 2020. They will have more demand for high class integrated resorts. If the Vietnamese are allowed to gamble, development in integrated resorts with casino is a smart decision to make profit in Vietnam. In addition, the government will benefit from tax payments from these resorts and casino businesses.

Gambling is a potential sector in Vietnam with lots of opportunities. With the issuance of the casino and sports betting regulations, the legal framework in the area is expected to improve. This will attract investment of big names to the Vietnamese market.

Stephen Alan Crystal Representative of Casino & Casino Technology Investor Worldwide

The decree is a very welcomed news to investors like myself who have been active in the US casino industry for years, and who see tremendous opportunities to invest in Vietnam and to build world-class integrated gaming resorts in the country.

It is a great first step for Vietnam’s government to offer this a trial programme, and then to evaluate after three years whether to expand and continue the programme.

It’s a great move for attracting investment to Vietnam.

Over the last eight years, I have visited all parts of Vietnam, looking to make significant investment here in the casino industry.

The timing could not be better for this announcement as of now.

Previously, casino entry was strictly limited to foreigners and overseas Vietnamese (Viet Kieu).

The decree also loosens conditions for businesses to get investment licenses for casino operations, in terms of investment capital.

Accordingly, the total investment capital required for a casino project would be trimmed from $4 billion to $2 billion, given disbursed capital must reach at least $1 billion.

Drafting of the decree began in 2009, subjecting to enormous controversy over whether or not the country should allow Vietnamese citizens to plays at casinos.     

Michael Kelly, executive chairman of Ho Tram Project Company Limited, previously said that “Casino’s are our second biggest revenue maker after the hotel and resort businesses. Owning the largest casino venue in Vietnam, Ho Tram is waiting for the adoption of the decree to improve our casino business performance further.”

Ho Tram Project Company Limited operates the $4.2 billion Ho Tram Strip resort and casino complex in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau.

In a recent interview, Ho Kwon Ping, executive chairman of Banyan Tree Holdings, told VIR that “We have applied for a casino license. The procedures are reasonable and we look forward to a favourable decision soon, since we have already invested so much in tourism, and other applicants are simply promising to invest if they get a license.”

Pinning high hopes on the potential of the market, and the possibilities of easing the regulations by the local government, many investors have poured investment in the business.

The $4 billion South Hoi An integrated casino resort kicked off in April 2016. Invested by a joint venture between VinaCapital, Macau-based SunCity Group, and Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook, it is the second largest casino in Vietnam after the $4.2 billion Ho Tram Strip resort and casino complex.

Many other potential foreign firms, including Las Vegas Sands from the US, have expressed their interest in opening a casino in Vietnam.

According to the latest Vietnam-Casino-Gambling-Market Report by Duane Morris Vietnam LLC, Vietnam licensed seven businesses to run casinos.

The government has also recently allowed the development of two large-scale casino projects in Van Don in the northeastern province of Quang Ninh, and  the southern province of Kien Giang’s Phu Quoc island.

The regulation that bans locals from playing at casinos has prompted them to gamble overseas, causing an estimated loss of $800 million annually in the much-needed tax revenue for the country.

A recent study by the Institute of Regional Sustainable Development (IRSD) showed that if foreign investment in casino increases by $3 billion, Vietnam’s GDP will expand by 0.58 per cent.

Banyan Tree Holdings to gamble on casino business

Singapore’s Banyan Tree Holdings, a leader in hotels, resorts, and luxury apartments, has decided to raise investment capital for its Laguna Lang Co resort project to $2 billion, paying the way for it to run a casino business

According to VIR’s sources, last week, Thua Thien-Hue province, where Laguna Lang Co – the largest integrated world-class resort in central Vietnam – is located, sent a document to the government seeking permission for the Singaporean investor to raise its investment capital from the previously-registered $875 million.

If the capital hike proposal is approved, Banyan Tree could meet the capital requirement for running a casino business as regulated by the government’s Decree 03/2017/ND-CP which was issued last Friday (see page 7 for coverage).

“A casino based in Thua Thien-Hue will have a significant, positive impact on investors’ confidence in the potential opportunities of the province,” Gavin Herholdt, managing director of Laguna (Vietnam) Co. Ltd, told VIR.

“Investors consider the approval of a casino to be a driver of incremental tourism numbers that will trigger delivery of increased transport infrastructure, increased airline capacity and increased opportunities for the local workforce which in turn drives the increased middle class population providing improved spending and demand throughout the province,” he said.

The Lang Co section of Thua Thien-Hue might be added to the national casino development plan. This is a very important move to facilitate the investor’s planned casino.

In addition, the year-long proposal for a casino licence by Banyan Tree has gained support from a number of ministries. Minister of Finance Dinh Tien Dung once expressed his support to this proposal during a working trip to the province in 2016. Dung said he would propose that the government add casino business to the resort’s investment portfolio.            

“Although we have applied for a casino licence, our application is still in the process of being considered by all levels of government.  We respect the complexity of that consideration process and are happy to give the authorities the time they require to fully understand and consider all aspects of our application, particularly the potential impacts on local communities,” said Herholdt.

Located near Lang Co bay, one of the world’s most beautiful bays, the 280ha Laguna Lang Co integrated resort began operating nearly four years ago. Banyan Tree has so far disbursed over $200 million in the resort.- By Bich Thuy


Decree allows casino access for locals, vietnam economy, business news, vn news, vietnamnet bridge, english news, Vietnam news, news Vietnam, vietnamnet news, vn news, Vietnam net news, Vietnam latest news, Vietnam breaking news