Vietnam to Allow Locals to Gamble on its Soil?

While this week hasn’t seen an overturning of the rules regarding locals playing in casinos; it has seen an important step taken in that process. Since 2009, a potential law change has been on the table, and now a concrete step has been taken toward making this happen.

The Grand Ho Tram Strip
The Grand Ho Tram Strip (Photo The Grand Ho Tram Strip)

Draft decree allowing locals to enter casinos has been submitted

This draft decree has been a long time coming, and will change the face of the casino industry in Vietnam if all goes ahead. The Lottery and Gambling Division of Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance (MoF) made an announcement on Monday, stating that the draft decree had been submitted.
Under long standing rules which may soon be changed, only foreign tourists, overseas Vietnamese nationals, or Viet Kieu are allowed to enter casinos. Deputy Director of the Lottery and Gambling Division for the MoF, Nguyen Huy Dat stated, “We hope that this will be the last draft, already we have seen a lot of revisions before its submission in June.”

Strict requirement

Casino operators and stakeholders have voiced expectations that total investment capital for casino projects will be lowered from $4 billion to $2 billion, with hopes for $1 billion in disbursed capital. The MoF has been looking into these possibilities, with Dat adding, “We took these issues into consideration when we composed the draft. However, the final decision will be made by the government.”

Big expectations for existing and upcoming casinos

In an interview with a business news website, Michael Kelly, who is Executive Chairman of Ho Tram Project Company Ltd, stated that,

“Owning the largest casino venue in Vietnam, Ho Tram is waiting for the adoption of the decree to improve our casino business performance further.”

The Grand Ho Tram Strip is currently the largest casino in Vietnam (Photo The Grand Ho Tram Strip)

This decree could potentially spell good news for casino projects such as the Nam Hoi An Casino Resort, which is under construction now, and will see $4 billion of investment. Two further large casino projects have also been approved, one in Van Don, which is in the northern province of Quang Ninh, and the other in Phu Quoc, which is in the southern province of Kien Giang.

More poker?

There are no assurances yet that the government will approve this decree, but if they do, the Asian poker community will be hoping to see plenty of poker offered, with popularity growth following on from that. This would cause the Vietnamese market to become an attractive one for major tours such as the APT and WPT, as potential field sizes would be substantially larger. Despite the cause for optimism, it is important to bear in mind that poker is not a primary revenue source for casinos, and so will not be a priority. Furthermore, the final decision on this decree has not yet been made.

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