Vietnam locals-in-casinos trial doomed to fail?


vietnam-grand-ho-tram-strip-casinoCzech Republic-based gaming and lottery operator Synot Group has opened its second casino in Vietnam.

Synot opened its first Vietnamese gaming hall in December 2015 in the north central coastal province of Nghe An. Last week, Synot expanded its Vietnamese presence with the launch of a new gaming venue in the city of Nha Trang on the country’s south central coast.

Last week’s ceremonial opening was attended by Synot business director Miroslav Valenta, who said the new “luxury casino” would feature an unspecified number of Synot’s own video lottery terminals as well as roulette. Valenta said Synot continues to explore similar business opportunities in other East Asian markets.

A former top exec of Vietnam’s only operational integrated resort thinks the government is making a mistake in choosing locations to test its locals-in-casinos policy.

Vietnamese nationals aren’t allowed to visit any of their country’s gaming venues but word circulated last month that the government planned to conduct a three-year trial of allowing locals in two casinos: one on the northern Van Don Island in Ha Long Bay, and the other on the southern island of Phu Quoc.

Global Market Advisors’ Shaun McCamley, former president of The Grand Ho Tram Strip resort (pictured), told World Gaming Magazine that he fully supported the government’s willingness to test a relaxation of its gambling restrictions, but suggested that the two proposed locations “will, from an operational and revenue creation viewpoint, face significant challenges.”

McCamley noted that the two selected casinos are located in remote areas in which infrastructure is sorely lacking, meaning traveling to these casinos will be a hassle. The fact that the government will impose certain fiscal requirements for casino entry will also limit ‘walk-up’ visitation.

Ho Tram is similarly infrastructure-challenged, and while the company is planning to build a dedicated airport nearby, McCamley suggested that Ho Tram may have been left out of the trial due to the government’s belief that the property “has not delivered on its investment promises.”

McCamley also suggested that Ho Tram’s 2014 decision to launch ‘proxy’ betting via online video feeds streamed from the casino’s tables may have earned the government’s ire. McCamley said the government has a “total mistrust on anything associated with online gaming moves.”