Vietnam steps closer to relaxation in gambling policy

By Tom Lewis
After seven years of discussion, a draft decree that would allow Vietnamese citizens to gamble in the country’s casinos has been submitted to the country’s government, according to the Vietnam Investment Review (VIR).

The draft decree was submitted by the Lottery and Gaming Division of Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance (MoF) on Monday.

Existing Vietnamese gambling legislation dictates that casino entry is limited to foreign passport holders and overseas Vietnamese or Viet Kieu.

The MoF has claimed that the delays experienced in the approval process of the draft decree since its inception in 2009 have cost Vietnam US$800m a year in tax revenue.

Nguyen Huy Dat, Deputy Director of the MoF’s Lottery and Gambling Division, said: “We hope that this will be the last draft, already we have seen a lot of revisions before its submission in June.”

Casino operators in Vietnam have registered their expectation that the total investment capital required for a casino project in Vietnam be slashed from US$4bn to US$2bn, with the condition that disbursed capital must reach at least US$1bn.

Dat added: “We took these issues into consideration when we composed the draft.

“However, the final decision will be made by the government.”

Speaking to VIR, Executive Chairman of Ho Tram Project Company Ltd, Michael Kelly, said: “Casinos are our second biggest revenue maker after the hotel and resort businesses.

“Owning the largest casino venue in Vietnam, Ho Tram is waiting for the adoption of the decree to improve our casino business performance further.”

A study recently conducted by the Vietnamese Institute of Regional Sustainable Development showed that if foreign direct investment in the casino market rises by US$3bn, Vietnam’s GDP will expand by 0.58%.

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