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Vietnam finance ministry proposes easing conditions for casino projects
Ngoc Thuy 16:17, 2020/08/25
The Vietnamese finance ministry expected an easing in conditions for casino projects would attract more investors in the field.

Vietnam's Ministry of Finance (MoF) has proposed a revision of the government's Decree No.03 dated 2017, which provides a legal framework for casino businesses, in an attempt to loosen conditions for investors in the field.

 The MoF expects to loosen conditions for investors in casino business. 

Under this proposal, the MoF still maintains its stance that casino-integrated project is required to have investment capital of at least US$2 billion to be granted investment license. As such, these projects must include works related to hotels, tourism, trade and entertainment, among others.

Moreover, investors are only allowed to operate casino businesses once the investment capital is disbursed by half, or at least US$1 billion.

The required 50% disbursement could include the capital already invested in other projects in the locality but should not exceed 25% of total investment capital for the casino project.

For example, at the Van Don economic zone in Quang Ninh province, SunGroup’s 50% investment capital disbursement in Van Don casino project, could encompass its capital already poured in the construction of Van Don International Airport and the Van Don – Ha Long – Mong Cai expressway.

The MoF also noted firms could only transfer its stake in the project five years since the issuance of casino license, while casino could post advertisement in the area to attract both domestic and foreign players.

Before the enactment of Decree No.03, Vietnam had eight licensed casinos but for foreigners only, including seven in operation and one under construction which is the US$4-billion South Hoi An integrated casino resort in central province of Quang Nam.

In 2017, the combined revenue of eight casinos stood at VND1.19 trillion (US$51.27 million), and rose to VND2.5 trillion (US$107.7 million) in 2019, representing a two-fold increase in three years.

Recently, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has given permission for Laguna Lang Co in Thua Thien-Hue province to operate a casino, following the decision of the investor Bayan Tree Holdings (Singapore) to raise the project's investment capital to US$2 billion. 

There are also other three billion-dollar casino projects in the pipeline at three economic zones of Van Don, Bac Van Phong and Phu Quoc.

Decree No.03 was seen as the government's effort to step by step legalize casino businesses and grant permission for locals to play at casinos in a 3-year pilot scheme. Previously, only foreign passport holders were allowed to gamble in the country's 30 casinos and electronic gaming parlors. 

Meanwhile, Decree No.03 allows local Vietnamese citizens who are 21 or older and have a regular income of at least VND10 million (US$441) per month to access and play at Vietnam-based casinos. 

In order to access a casino in Vietnam, Vietnamese players must buy an entrance ticket at the cost of VND1 million (US$44) to be in the premise 24 consecutive hours, or VND25 million (US$1100) per month. The entire proceeds from ticket sales shall go to the provincial budget where the casino is located.

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