Suncity’s Vietnam casino project gets license valid through 2080


suncity-group-hoiana-vietnam-casino-licenseVietnam’s casino market officially has another entrant after the government issued a license to an affiliate of junket operator Suncity Group.

On Friday, the Hong Kong-listed Suncity Group Holdings – which shares ownership with the Suncity Group junket business – announced that its Hoiana casino resort joint venture in Quang Nam province had received its ‘casino operating license’ from Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance.

Suncity holds a 34% stake in the $4b Hoiana joint venture, with relatively equal shares held by real estate investment and development firm VinaCapital Group and Gold Yield Enterprises, a subsidiary of Hong Kong conglomerate Chow Tai Fook Enterprises.

Suncity says the Hoiana license is good through December 10, 2080, by which time everyone currently involved with the project – and likely some of their children – will be dead and buried. (Sorry … too much perspective?)

The lengthy license duration — which includes potential extensions –- stands in stark contrast to the 10-year license duration that Japan is offering its would-be casinos operators (a factor that reportedly contributed to Las Vegas Sands exiting the Japanese casino contest earlier this week).

Hoiana was originally scheduled to open its first phase in Q1 2019, but this was later delayed to early 2020 and then delayed again until sometime next year. However, Suncity said Friday that it will hold “an exclusive preview” this summer. Whenever it opens, Suncity will be in charge of its gaming operations.

Vietnam already has a number of large casinos in operation, including the Corona Resort & Casino on Phu Quoc island, one of only two properties selected to participate in the government’s trial-run of allowing local residents to set foot on a casino gaming floor. So far, there’s no confirmation that the Hoiana will be allowed to join this trial once it opens.

Some business types are pressing the government to add more names to the list of 43 hotels and resorts at which some form of gaming is permitted. This week, the Vietnam Association of Foreign Investment Enterprises (VAFIE) submitted a series of proposals to the government that the group claims will help boost international tourism.

Looming largest among VAFIE’s suggestions is the establishment of a dedicated national gambling regulatory agency to ensure proper management of the industry. Establishing detailed policies and laws on gaming that match international best practices would offer stability and reassurance and encourage investment from both domestic and international firms.