After months and years of discussion and deliberation Vietnam has finally published circular 102/2017/TT-BC, which will help guide the implementation of Decree 3/2017/ND-CP which was passed earlier in 2017. The big game changer is the fact that Vietnamese citizens will be able to enter casinos from December 2017, which up until now have been restricted to foreigners. The debate has really between balancing the communist ideals and the pragmatism of recognizing the significant tax revenue lost every year to neighboring countries and in particular Cambodia.
The further good news is that all casinos (of which there are currently 7) can apply to give entry to Vietnamese Citizens not just a small number as previously rumored. However it should be noted that a minimum investment of US$ 2 billion is required to obtain a casino license. One of the main reasons for this push is that Vietnam’s ultra-rich population has been growing faster than any other country in the world (320% from 2006 to 2016).
However, as often is the case in Vietnam, the operation requirements and conditions for local investors will not be easy to police and monitor. These include a requirement that operators control and record all visitors both in and out and these records have to be kept for 2 years and available for inspection. Vietnamese citizens will also have to prove their financial ability either through a certified copy of their personal income tax return showing income of over VND 10 million per month (US$ 450).
Overall this is a major step forward and a huge boost to those existing Casino operations and will certainly help attract further investment in spite of the required investment level and the onerous policing methods.