Casino Operations in Vietnam – Chasing Rainbows?

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In reality, Vietnam currently has 27 listed casinos. However, very few of these have live tables.

There are newly planned facilities, that have been licensed in Van Don and Phu Quoc (to Sun Group and Vin Group) and these are the only two casinos licensed to date for local players. It is rumored that Ho Tram will be added to the list. Ho Tram being the only truly international facility currently operating in Vietnam.

Vietnam law requires that casinos be located inside a larger resort complex and the total investment must be at least US$ 2 billion, reduced under the “casino decree” in January 2017 from US$ 4 billion.

In order to make these casino businesses profitable (with the exception of those close to the Chinese border), locals must be allowed to enter and play, because most casinos, with the possible exception of Phu Quoc and the facility in Danang, are not attractive enough to bring in foreign high rollers. The main reason being transportation distance from Vietnam’s international airports is too far of a drive. Travel time to Ho Tram from the HCMC airport is a 2 to 2.5 hour drive. Singapore and Macau have casinos within a 20-minute drive of their airports.

Vietnam casinos licensed for local players will be expected to closely monitor the playing conditions under the decree, which includes players providing proof of salary, and also requires a payment of US$ 44 per hour or 1,100 per month (payable in VND).

The casino locations also raise the question of accessibility to locals. However, many locals would probably be willing to travel up to 2.5 hours by road, but then this also puts Cambodia within reach with no necessity to pay relatively high entrance fees to those casinos over the border.

One piece of good news is the recent proposal to reduce a special consumption tax on casino operations from the current 35% to 10% for a 10 year period for the casinos located in “Special Economic Zones”, meaning Van Don and Phu Quoc.

While certainly progress is being made in this potential source of tax revenue, it is still unclear how profitable the current businesses will be with the massive investment required.

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