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Vietnam to ease casino investment requirements as new report shines light on 2019 results of casino pilot program for locals

Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance (MOF) has released a report recommending the amendment of certain provisions of Decree 03/2017 governing the nation’s casinos.

The amendments, which aim to ease the burden on operators and investors amid substantial losses within the sector, include removing a requirement for casino and integrated resort investors to pay at least 50% of total investment capital for a project before it can be granted its license. According to the Ministry, such a requirement is not feasible for projects being developed in regions lacking infrastructure where the investor may also need to inject further funding into infrastructure improvements.

Local media outlet VietnamNet also reports that the Ministry will ease restrictions on advertising. Operators are currently only allowed to advertise their business at casino entry points, but this will now be expanded to allow for advertising anywhere within the region where the project is located to allow greater opportunity to introduce the business to international travelers.

The minimum US$2 billion investment requirement will remain in place.

The easing of some provisions supports information contained within the Ministry’s report showing that Corona Resort & Casino in Phú Quốc – the first of two casinos granted permission to allow locals gambling under a three-year pilot program – suffered a loss of VND2.529 trillion (US$108.8 million) in 2019. Corona opened in January 2019 and attracted 105,000 casino visitors throughout the year, of which 47,400 or 45% were Vietnamese. The resort generated revenue of VND1.433 trillion (US$61.6 million), including VND1.381 trillion (US$59.4 million) from its casino.

Vietnam’s second casino granted permission to welcome locals, located in the rural district of Vân Đồn in Quảng Ninh Province, has yet to open.

The Ministry of Finance said casino revenues across Vietnam’s eight licensed casinos reached VND2.5 trillion (US$107.5 million) in 2019, more than double the VND1.19 trillion (US$51.2 million) in 2017 and up from VND1.56 trillion (US$67.1 million) in 2018.

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