Vietnam’s decision to lift the ban on locals’ gambling in casinos has sparked hope that the local industry will soon witness a boom.
The country’s casino industry has long been touted as “lucrative,” and reports indicate that it will benefit more once the long-running ban on gambling has been lifted. But are Vietnam’s casinos really as profitable as what they say?
Apparently, that’s not the case.
Local casino owners revealed to news outlet VNExpress that “they either losing money or making very little because foreigners, especially those from China and Taiwan, are becoming less inclined to gamble in Vietnam.”
The owners also claimed that the growing competition locally—more casinos are fighting for fewer foreigner players—have caused their businesses to lag.
Vietnam has seven casinos operating in some of its popular tourist destinations, including Quang Ninh, where tourists often visit for the famous Ha Long Bay. Royal International, which runs the sole casino in the Quang Ninh province, reported in 2014 that its net losses has reached VND153 billion (USD6.7 million).
The casino in the northern port city of Hai Phong also reported losses of up to VND169 billion annually in the period of 2008 and 2012, according to the report, which quoted figures from the local government.
The situation, however, could change for the better once locals are permitted to enter the casino halls.
The government recently announced that 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). Under the three-year pilot program, local residents will be allowed to gamble at two select casinos—one in Quang Ninh province and the other on Phu Quoc island.
Bui Quang Vinh, minister of planning and investment, told the news outlet that local governments are already planning to bet big on gambling. Even Ha Giang, a province in the northern Vietnam, has tabled a proposal to build a casino.