Vietnam citizens who enjoy gambling will finally get the chance to participate in their favorite pastime without running afoul of the law. According to a report by Asia-focused media outlet Nikkei, a three-year test program is going to begin next year that will allow citizens to gamble at a certain casino on Phu Quoc Island, a popular tourist destination located in Kien Giang. Perhaps lawmakers are finally coming to the realization that it is better to legalize gambling and regulate it, and not let illegal gambling run rampant.
The central government approved the plan, which could lead to more projects, such as other casinos and horse racing facilities, dotting the Vietnam landscape. Regulators only this month approved the plans for a horse racing facility in the Soc Son District that has been patiently waiting for ten years.
Vingroup, a major real estate developer in Vietnam, will be the primary beneficiary of the pilot program. It owns the casino, which has a capital investment of over $2 billion and is part of an entertainment complex that was funded by Vingroup subsidiary, Phu Quoc Tourism Investment and Development.
The casino is not yet operational. The entire complex has been completed, but the casino is still waiting on its license from regulators. Provided the license comes soon, the casino could be put into operation early next year. The licensing process is an arduous one, requiring a number of different components.
Vietnam has had to contend with a great deal of illegal gambling in the country. Following increased pressure to rout the activity, the Phu Quoc casino was authorized in hopes that legalized gambling will help protect citizens. Since March of last year, citizens have, in theory, been able to gamble in the country, but developing the necessary framework to oversee the activity has been a slow process.
In launching the pilot, all gamblers will have to be 21 years old or older. They will be required to verify monthly income of at least $427 and must not have a criminal record. In addition, the casino will charge an entry fee of $50 and gamblers will be forced to buy a monthly gambling permit that carries a hefty price tag of $1,100.