Vietnamese citizens aged 21 and over would be allowed to enter casinos if the draft decree on casino business recently submitted by the Ministry of Finance to the cabinet is approved.
This is the first time the ministry has proposed that Vietnamese should be allowed to gamble at casinos. In the past, it has held firm on the position that only foreign passport holders may enter gambling facilities.
However, whether this proposal would still exist when the decree is enacted is uncertain as the Government is still canvassing public opinions.
This proposal has recently sparked a fierce debate. While many economists and lawmakers said that it would nurture social evils, foreign investors in the casino business, undoubtedly considered it a good business opportunity.
“Large integrated resorts require enough visitors on a regular basis to be truly successful,” said Colin Pine, general director of Ho Tram Project Company - owner and operator of the nation’s biggest casino in southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau. “The more people that may participate in the full offering of entertainment facilities, the more entertainment facilities there can be and the more successful the tourism and entertainment sector will be,” he added.
The draft decree goes on to say that Vietnamese citizens wishing to play at casinos must satisfy requirements on civil act capacity, financial ability, and other personal capacity conditions. The Prime Minister would determine more requirements in detail and decide which casinos would be opened for Vietnamese.
Another noteworthy point of the draft is conditions for investment in the casino business. Specifically, casino operators or project managers would be required to have five years’ experience, instead of having been engaged in the gambling industry for 10 years as stipulated in previous drafts. An investor wishing to run a casino in Vietnam must commit an investment capital amount of at least USD 4 billion and would be allowed to install one table game device and 10 electronic game devices for every USD 20 million of committed investment capital. However, the enterprise would be granted a casino business license only after it disburses half of the committed investment capital.
At present, Vietnam has seven casinos licensed nationwide, serving only foreigners. Vietnamese are banned from entering these casinos. At least three casino projects are currently awaiting approval of the Government.-