Vietnam ‘mixed-use’ project raises casino hopes; strange end to slots jackpot trial

vietnam-slots-jackpot-trialVietnam may have a new entrant in the resort casino sweepstakes after a Rockefeller-backed firm announced a $2.5b mixed-use project at Vung Ro Bay in Phu Yen province. Investment management firm Rose Rock Group says it has teamed with Vung Ro Petroleum, an independent petroleum company backed by UK-based Technostar Management Limited Company, on a project encompassing 760 hotel rooms, 4,300 apartments, 100 luxury townhouses, 350 marina berths and 200k-square-meters of space to be filled with retail and entertainment facilities.

There’s as yet no indication that the Vung Ro Bay project’s entertainment facilities will include a casino. The joint statement issued by the project’s partners said they would provide “a world class destination for discerning residents and visitors.” Vietnamese law doesn’t allow local residents to patronize the country’s casinos, which has limited international investor interest to just one currently operational resort-casino, Asian Coast Development Ltd.’s The Grand – Ho Tram Strip, located a little further down the coast in Bà Rịa–Vũng Tàu province. But the government has offered hints of a possible pilot project to test the ramifications of letting its citizens to enjoy the same freedoms as tourists, so perhaps the Rockefellers are just trying to stay ahead of the curve.

Over in Ho Chi Minh City, there’s been a strange resolution to the case of Ly Sam, the Vietnamese-American who believed he’d won a $55m jackpot playing slots at the Sheraton Saigon Hotel’s Palazzo Club in October 2009. The company that operated the slots, Dai Duong Company/Ocean Place, had contested Sam’s bonanza, claiming the slot machine in question had a maximum stipulated payout of $46k, meaning some serious malfunction had occurred. Last January, a court upheld Sam’s payday, adding insult to injury by ordering Dai Duong to also pay $57k in court costs.

Dai Duong immediately appealed and on Jan. 2, the HCMC People’s Court announced the cancellation of the original verdict. The court said it had done so at the request of both parties to the suit. In Sam’s application to cancel the verdict, he said he now recognized that it was “likely” the slot machine he’d been playing had indeed malfunctioned and therefore he was withdrawing his claim against Dai Duong. The gaming firm said it wholeheartedly agreed with Sam’s change of heart and withdrew its appeal. Nobody knows exactly what type of backroom deal was made to account for Sam’s about-face, with a lawyer attached to the case telling Tuoi Tre news that the details “cannot be revealed.”