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Domestic Casino 'A matter of time' for Vietnamese

Casino gambling will soon be legalized for Vietnamese citizens, said Joey Lim Kyoyu, executive director of Donaco International, as Vietnam's parliamentary standing committee is discussing legislation to allow Vietnamese citizens to gamble at home.

"They [the National Assembly] came out publicly to tell the Vietnamese that it's only a matter of time before they open their domestic casinos," Lim said.

"There are many foreign passport holders who can enter casinos," Lim said, adding, "Many locals still travel to other places to gamble in casinos."

"The government estimates that about $800 million is lost in annual taxes on total game revenue [GGR]," he said.

Changes in the law could make Vietnam an attractive bet for big game companies like Las Vegas Sands and Genting.

Speaking at a conference session at the Global Gaming Expo (G2E) Asia that opened in Macau today, Lim said.

Australian listed company Donaco International recently opened a newly built five-star hotel in northern Laoqai province, adjacent to Yunnan Province, China. The property can have up to 50 gaming tables, most of which are for baccarat.

Game revenue comes mainly from VIP guests, most from mainland China, Lim said. Residents registered in Yunnan Province can cross the border to Vietnam without a passport or visa using an official border pass.

"That's the main reason we've done so well. 99% of our business comes from mainland China, and 90% comes from what we call high rollers," he said.

Vietnam has seven table game casinos across six provinces. There are reports of at least 43 slot clubs without permission for the game table.

Business looks promising as operators in Vietnam are expecting to target local market bases that are less volatile and more profitable than VIP play.

"But the viability of the business in Vietnam needs much more transparency," Lim said, adding that creating a formal gaming regulator would be a good step forward.

The number of Chinese visitors to Vietnam rose 33.5 percent to 1.9 million last year, but may fall this year after last week's deadly anti-China riots.

Thousands of Chinese have fled Vietnam since protests began over Chinese oil rigs deployed in nearby disputed waters. Tourism agencies in mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau have advised residents not to travel to Vietnam.

Lim said there was no particular reason for concern and everything should return to normal soon. "The Prime Minister's Office has issued very strict orders to all departments to crack down on these protests," he said.

Protests can affect tourism, but it is not yet clear how much the impact will have on casino operators there.

"Because the uncertainty of the current situation continues, we do not comment on current or potential changes to the number of guests in the source market," a Grand-Ho Tram Streep Casino Resort spokesperson told GGRAcia.

The Grand Hotel is located two hours from Ho Chi Minh City and is the first of five resorts developed along the lake tram beach.
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Tuesday, October 31, 2023

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