Mere weeks after opening the first integrated resort and casino in Vietnam, the country’s government has passed new regulations that could dramatically cut any thought of gambling expansion linked to hotels.
According to the TTR Weekly, should government decree 86/2013/ND-CP become a law later this year, it would give only five-star casinos the opportunity to apply for a casino license, leaving any hotel that doesn’t fit the description of a “luxury tourist accommodation facilities” out in the cold when it comes to getting a piece of the country’s casino expansion plans. Violation of this regulation will also come with a hefty fine to the tune of anywhere between $8,580 all the way up to $9,533 with the possibility of also having licenses confiscated on a permanent basis.
The new regulation also calls for many of the countries three- and four-star hotels, especially in Ho Chi Minh, that already have modest slot machine operations inside their premises to reduce the number of their slot machines, roughly numbered around 75 to 100 depending on the size of the hotel, by a ratio of one slot machine for every five rooms. So supposing you’re a four-star, 100-room hotel that currently has 100 slot machines, the new regulation will force you to cut down your slot machines by the said ratio, meaning those 100 slots you currently have will have to be drastically cut to just 20 slot machines.
Suffice to say, this new regulation isn’t fair for the smaller hotel establishments that presumably relies more on the income generated by these slot machines than its luxurious counterparts. But its like the saying goes: ‘fair’ is a place where people judge pigs and while this smells of strong-arming from the government to force smaller hotels to withdraw from the business, it’s still a new regulation that is expected to pass later this year.
This new regulation also highlights the pretty distorted set-up Vietnam is envisioning with its casino industry, something that shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anybody familiar with the numerous ways Asian countries have handled their respective casino industries, especially when it comes to its local citizens. Vietnam, predictably, isn’t any different because its “five-star-hotel-only” casinos are only open to foreigners and overseas Vietnamese who entered the country on a foreign passport. But if you’re a local and you get caught breaking this rule, you better be ready to pony up a fine of anywhere between $8,580 and $9,533.
Limiting casinos to five-star hotels like the recently opened The Grand – Ho Tram without giving lower-rated hotels a chance to get a piece of the revenue pie makes us wonder how this set-up will help Vietnam’s economy and on a more micro level, how it will will help local Vietnamese folks, especially those who own these hotels that rely greatly on the revenue generated by their already modest slot operations.