Vietnam Keeps Casino Ban For LocalsSeptember 10, 2016 10:30 am
The Vietnam government’s refusal to lift a casino ban imposed on locals could have a profoundly negative impact on foreign investment in the country’s gambling sector, analysts have cautioned.
Currently, just foreigners and Vietnamese people holding foreign passports are able to enter and play at casinos, but recently there had been hope that the government which took office on April 7th was ready to relax the strict law. Gaming advocates had been anticipating the introduction of a series of looser regulations for Vietnamese residents, including charging locals who met a minimum net worth requirement a casino entry fee, and allowing them to play low-stakes games.
That optimism has now been dispelled, however, with the government citing concerns over a possible proliferation of gambling addiction, as well as criminal activities such as money laundering. This now spells bad news for those international companies looking to open casinos in the country of almost 90 million people, especially with a minimum investment of $4 billion required in order to be considered for a casino resort licence.
Warning that the development may kill off any investment interest from large gaming companies, Grant Govertsen from Union Gaming Group, explained:
“On the surface, this is clearly bad news for international integrated resort developers who viewed Vietnam as one of the prized global greenfield opportunities.”
In the meantime, Michael Kokalari, CIMB head of research in Vietnam, stated that while the taxation and investment landscape for the current seven licensed casinos in the country is likely to improve in the future, the same cannot be said for the prospects of locals being given free rein to the casinos. As he subsequently explained:
“We have warned investors for years that their expectations about the likely ability of locals to gamble in Vietnam were unrealistic. The new government is even more conservative than the previous administration.”