According to Ha Ton Vinh, who has researched the casino industry, Vietnamese were prohibited at all three casino types in Vietnam. They could not play at five-star hotels, which allowed foreign travelers or those with foreign passports.
They could not go to small-scale casinos which have been operating for a long time. There are seven such casinos in Vietnam, located in Lao Cai, Mong Cai, Do Son, Bac Ninh, Ha Long and Da Nang.
And they were prohibited to play at IR (integrated resorts) with investment capital of at least $2 billion. The investors of the IRs are required to disburse at least $1 billion before getting license for casino business.
|Many investors who gave up casino development projects some years ago are considering returning as the government has turned the green light on allowing Vietnamese to go to casinos.|
Foreign investors put highest expectations on IRs as the biggest resource of income. With the Decree 03 released, which allows Vietnamese to gamble at domestic casinos, investors can expect revenue from two sources – foreign and Vietnamese travelers.
Vietnam’s tourism reported impressive growth of 16 percent in 2016, while domestic travelers still accounted for a higher proportion.
The business performance of Donaco is a good example which shows the lucrative Vietnamese market. Fifteen years ago, following a fact-finding visit by the members of the family owning Donaco to Lao Cai province, a hotel – Aristo – with 428 rooms and a casino with 50 tables and 58 machines were built.
Under the management of Genting Group from Malaysia, every table at Aristo’s casino could bring revenue of $6,000 a day.
Investors had to wait too long to get the nod from the Vietnamese government to their proposal to allow Vietnamese to go to casinos. Many of them, who lost patience and left Vietnam some years ago, are now considering to come back.
The US-based MGM Resorts, for example, which withdrew from Ho Tram project in Vung Tau City in 2013, has hired consultants to lobby for a license to admit Vietnamese gamblers.
Malaysian Genting Group, which left in 2010, is also coming back with a multi-billion dollar investment plan.
One investor took a flight to HCMC just one week after the Decree 03 was released, said he was willing to build a casino in Vietnam, so that Vietnamese can play in their homeland.
Vietnamese now have to go to Cambodia to play at casinos along the border. According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism (VNAT), of 2.4 million foreign travelers to Cambodia in the first half of 2016, 20 percent were from Vietnam.