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Chairman's Insights

Casino Operations in Vietnam – Chasing Rainbows?

In reality Vietnam currently has 27 listed casinos however very few of these have live tables. There are new planned facilities, that have been licensed in Van Don and Phu Quoc (to Sun Group and Vin Group) and these are the only 2 so far licensed for local players. It is rumored that Ho Tram will be added to the list. Ho Tram being the only truly international facility currently operating in Vietnam.

Casino’s must be located inside a larger resort complex and the total investment must be at least US$ 2 billion reduced under the “casino decree” in January 2017 from US$ 4 billion.

In order to really make these businesses really profitable (with possible with the exception of those close to the Chinese border) locals must be allowed to enter because most locations, with the possible exception of Phu Quoc and the facility in Danang[1], are not attractive enough to attract foreign high rollers, because they are not close to international airports. Ho Tram for example is a 2 to 2.5 hour drive from HCMC when Singapore and Macau have casinos within 20 a minute drive of the airport.

Even those casinos licensed for local players will be expected to closely monitor the conditions under the decree, which included proof of salary and requires a payment of US$ 44 per hour or 1,100 per month (payable in VND). The locations also raise the question of accessibility to locals. However many locals would probably be willing to travel up to 2.5 hours by road but then that also puts Cambodia within reach with no necessity to pay relatively high entrance fees.

One piece of good news is the recent proposal to reduce special consumption tax on casino operations from the current 35% to 10% for a 10 year period for the casinos located in Special Economic Zones meaning Van Don and Phu Quoc.

Whilst certainly progress is being made in this potential source of tax revenues, it is still unclear how profitable the current businesses will be with the massive investment required.

[1] The actual terms of the license for this facility are unclear to the writer.

Founder & Senior Board Adviser
Ken Atkinson View more