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Vietnam Ministry of Finance seeks pilot extension at Phu Quoc casino

Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance has asked for a two-year extension of a three-year pilot programme that allows Vietnamese people to gamble at a casino on Phu Quoc Island.

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It comes as the Covid-19 pandemic has badly affected the casino’s operations over the last two years, with the Kien Giang People’s Committee also asking for the extension at the casino in the southern province of Kien Giang. The pilot programme is set to finish at the end of the year.

Deputy Minister of Finance Nguyen Duc Chi has confirmed that the ministry has asked for approval to extend the programme until the end of 2024. It comes as social distancing meant few foreigners could enter Vietnam, while Vietnamese people were also restricted from going out except in urgent situations.

“The Covid-19 pandemic over the last two years has had a great impact on Vietnam’s production, hospitality and tourism, particularly the casino business,” said Chi.

“To properly evaluate the effectiveness of the pilot programme, it’s necessary to extend the programme two more years.”

As noted by the ministry, the Phu Quoc casino served 240,560 customers from 2019 to 2021 under the pilot programme, with Vietnamese people accounting for 65% of visitors. Revenue grew 10% per year in 2019 and 2020, but dropped sharply during the pandemic.

Phu Quoc casino is one of only two casinos open to Vietnamese in a trial programme in Vietnam, with the other in the Van Don district of northern Quang Ninh province not approved for investment.

As stated by the Ministry of Finance, casino development associated with large-scale general service, tourism, commerce and entertainment zones is appropriate, and this includes the pilot programme.

Prof. Ha Ton Vinh, who advised and proposed allowing Vietnamese people to play in casinos in Vietnam, commented: “Thanks to the pilot programme, the Government will have suitable solutions to strictly manage casino business activities, without disrupting social order. But at the same time, the policy also needs to better meet the needs of investors in large-scale casino complexes.

“To meet the needs of domestic players, besides Phu Quoc casino, there are still many large-scale casinos across the country that can be piloted for Vietnamese people to play, such as Ho Tram casino or Nam Hoi An casino.”

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