Vietnam Opens Up Gambling for Locals

Vietnam Opens Up Gambling for Locals

For centuries, gambling was prohibited in Vietnam. The country’s Communist past further solidified its stance against casinos and gambling, as these acts were likened to moral degradation.

Times are slowly changing, however, and Vietnam is shedding traditional notions for a more modern outlook. The country’s casinos are now open to foreign tourists, with the Grand Ho Tram Strip the largest casino-hotel in Vietnam. As for locals, the government legalized small games of chance last 2017, which is what made the games the only recognized venue that locals could gamble.

A new experiment

The Vietnamese government is taking this modernization one step further with a new decree that could allow locals to gamble in casinos, too. Nikkei reports that this move is expected to bolster both foreign and local investment in the country. Experts suggest that Vietnam’s gaming industry may end up becoming a big source of tax revenues for the country, provided strict laws are enforced. Union Gaming Securities Asia estimates Vietnam’s casino industry to be worth about $1.2 billion.

Of course, the Vietnamese are no strangers to gambling and exciting games. Bai Choi, a card game played by local villagers, has been described as the Vietnamese equivalent of bingo. In fact, traditional variations of this game can be found all over the world, from the UK favorite 90-ball bingo to the American staple 75-ball version. Despite being mostly popular in Western countries, this speaks to the fact that these activities are connecting cultures. The development of Vietnam’s casino industry thus provides an interesting contrast against more traditional card games and past-times.

The inclusion of a big real estate player

The casino is located in scenic Phu Quoc, which is the largest island in Vietnam. This may prove to be the perfect place for a casino complex, considering the island is home to many resorts and draws both foreign and local tourism on a regular basis.

Local real estate developer Vingroup is the sole investor in the project. Vingroup is Vietnam’s biggest company, spearheaded by Pham Nhat Vuong. The conglomerate’s portfolio goes beyond real estate, with projects in healthcare, education, and even the tech industry. Meanwhile, the casino is funded by Phu Quoc Tourism Investment and Development, which is Vingroup’s subsidiary. The project’s capital investment clocks in at a little over $2 billion.

Rules and regulations for local players

As this project is in its pilot stage, the government has been strict to devise and enforce rules for locals who want to play at the Phu Quoc casino. Vietnam Investment Review states that locals who want to play must provide the casino with an updated dossier that proves their financial stability. The casino, on the other hand, must abide by current tax laws and have separate accounting streams for revenue, expenses, and profits.

It remains to be seen just how this casino project will affect Vietnam’s image. What remains clear is that this step showcases Vietnam’s continued push towards a more modern tourism industry, one that’s set against a rich and storied culture. Tight government regulations will be key in ensuring that this project becomes successful.

Image credit: Accor Hotels

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