Vietnamese players may be Cambodia’s VIPs, but the government of Cambodia isn’t concerned—yet—with its neighbor’s plan to finally allow residents to gamble in select casinos.
Last week, the Vietnamese government announced it would allow citizens over 21 years old to play in local casinos from mid-March, as long as they have a monthly income of at least VND10 million (USD445).
This, analysts believe, may pose a problem for border casinos, especially those located in cities like Bavet, which is the international border gate between Cambodia and Vietnam. Union Gaming analyst Grant Govertsen warned that many gambling establishments will “struggle to survive over the duration of the three-year Vietnam locals pilot program.”
“We do expect the border casinos in cities like Bavet, Cambodia to bear the brunt of the downside as the border casinos are significantly easier to reach than Naga and have historically captured the lion’s share of Vietnamese customers,” Govertsen said in a note.
Officials with the Cambodian government, however, think differently.
Ros Phirun, deputy director-general of the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s financial industry department, was quoted by the Khmer Times saying, “Of course we will definitely get some effect by the new move from the Vietnamese government. But, it doesn’t mean that it severely affects the whole industry here because they will only let local people gamble at two selected casinos which are really far from us.”
Under the three-year pilot program, Vietnamese residents will be allowed to gamble at two select casinos—one in Quang Ninh province and the other on Phu Quoc island. Both casinos are yet to be built and are not readily accessible to residents of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.
“Our casinos are mainly at the Bavet border near Ho Chi Minh City [in southern Vietnam] where 90 percent of the Vietnamese are coming from,” Phirun said, according to the report. “Also, I don’t see many Vietnamese from the north coming to gamble in Bavet. I don’t think their local people will spend many hours driving so far to a casino.”
Cambodia currently plays host to 65 casinos, according to the news outlet, quoting government data.