Perhaps it is time for Vietnam to relax its policy on foreign investment in casinos. This is the view of the country’s Ministry of Finance (MoF), which wants the government to change the requirements to allow larger amounts of offshore interest to facilitate the growth of the industry. The idea has merit because current regulations require a minimum investment of $2 billion for the construction of an Integrated Resort (IR), half of which must be paid just to receive permission to invest.
Vietnam’s financial executives want to ease on casino investment controlsAccording to VNExpress, the MoF approached Vietnam’s prime minister recently, suggesting it includes investors’ money contributed to other areas (SAEZ) projects when calculating the basic amount of capital that must be disbursed to receive the authorization. In doing so, the current $1 billion down payment would be significantly reduced, leading to greater foreign participation in the development of the IR.
This would give a significant boost to regions suffering from underdevelopment, such as the rural district of Van Don. Located in Quang Ninh province, it is one of three locations that have been selected for a potential SAEZ, but which has not attracted interest due to current requirements. Van Don is joined by Bac Van Phong in Khanh Hoa and Phu Quoc in Kien Giang.
Not everyone is prepared to support lighter requirements. The Ministry of Planning and Investment responded to the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s proposal by saying it would not be appropriate at this time, but did not provide a clearer explanation. The Ministry of Defence opposed the opposition, saying it would be unfair to companies that have already made substantial investments in the development of the IR.
Vietnam has taken a dark approach to gambling, refusing to allow residents at the country’s seven casinos. If the Royal Casino in Quang Ninh is an indication of how often foreigners visit the country to play, the $2 billion requirement will certainly continue to keep investors away. The Royal reported in January that its after-tax profit for 2018 was only $731,263, the first time since 2015 that it was not in the red.
There is a possibility – albeit remote – that legal gambling could resume in Vietnam. The country launched a program last year to determine whether residents should be allowed to play, and three casinos should be involved. The first was the Corona Resort, which began receiving local casino enthusiasts last January. A second site, supported by Suncity Group, will open its doors to residents this fall and the third property has not yet been identified.