Vietnam will allow local residents to gamble in two casinos as part of a three-year trial, according to a local industry watcher.
Vietnam has been tinkering with its new gambling legislation for years now, and the most recent updates showed the Ministry of Finance reversing course on its earlier plans to relax the longstanding ban on local residents entering gaming establishments.
But in a recent interview with Yogonet, Stellar Management CEO Augustine Ha Ton Vinh claimed that the government had “decided to allow Vietnamese to enter two designated integrated resorts, one on the Van Don Island, Ha Long Bay, in the North and the other on Phu Quoc island in the South.” Vinh said this experiment would run for three years in order to gauge the impact on society.
According to Vinh, the most recent draft of Vietnam’s gaming legislation will restrict casino entry to local residents over 21 years of age with no criminal record and who can prove a monthly salary over US $500. However, family members can complicate this process if they can demonstrate that the individual’s gambling would pose potential harm to the family.
Vinh also said Vietnam would impose a Singapore-style casino entry levy on local residents. One-time casino entry fees will be around $50 – about half of Singapore’s rate – while a monthly pass will cost around $1,100.
Vinh also said the government would introduce a two-tiered casino licensing system, with one category for integrated resort casinos, which must involve total investment of over $2b, while the other category will allow for smaller casinos with investment under $2b.
Each $10m of investment would allow casino operators to offer one gaming table and 10 electronic gaming machines. Licenses will be valid for 20-year initial terms with a one-time extension of 10 years, after which negotiations on renewals will presumably become hardball.
Vietnam previously required would-be integrated resort developers to commit to investing $4b, and while rumors have suggested some relaxation of this policy was imminent, other rumors suggested the government was sticking to its guns.
Vinh said he expects the Ministry of Finance will release its approved final draft decree “possibly in the next few months.” Along with interested casino operators, Vinh has a stake in seeing this prediction come true. Back in 2013, Vinh said he was “80% to 90% certain” that Vietnam would allow locals in casinos within ‘two to three years,” and the outer limit of that prediction is already here.