Despites strict regulations, Vietnam still attractive to casino developers

VietNamNet Bridge – Analysts believed that with the expected strict control over casino projects, Vietnam would keep casino developers away. However, they are wrong.

The construction of the first tower with 541 rooms would start in January 2013 by MGM Grand Ho Tram Beach in the sea province of Ba Ria – Vung Tau. Meanwhile, the execution of the second tower with 559 rooms has kicked off which is expected to become operational after one and a half year.

The Ministry of Finance last month opened the draft decree on casino management for public opinion, which said that a project with casino must have the minimum registered capital of 4 billion dollars, and that Vietnamese people would not be allowed to go to casino.

In fact, the foreign investors who plan to set up casinos in Vietnam not only to receive foreigners, but they target Vietnamese clients as well.

Naga Corp, which is running the casino chain in Cambodia and having shares listed on the Hong Kong’s stock market, in its prospectus, reported that 40 percent of its income comes from Vietnamese players.

Since Vietnamese are expected to be a big source of income for casinos, foreign investors seem to register their investment projects if they are sure that Vietnamese are also admissible to casinos.

Regarding the Ho Tram Beach project, people seem to be curious about why the investor still decides to pour big money into the project, even though the government of Vietnam makes no secret of its intention not to allow Vietnamese people to go to casinos.

President and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, Sheldon Adelson, some months ago repeatedly appeared on local newspapers after stating that he planned to set up a six billion dollar worth of integrated resort with casino in Vietnam.

However, no further information about the project has been released since the day the draft decree was opened for public opinion.

Meanwhile, Genting Malaysia Berhard, a subsidiary of Genting Group, three weeks ago also announced that it would not move ahead with the project in Vietnam.

However, the project’s investor seems to be not too mind about whether Vietnamese would go to casinos, though he has admitted that casino would be the main source of income of the integrated resort project.

General Director of Ho Tram Strip Lloyd Nathan, when asked who the integrated resort targets, said that it targets all the clients in Asia, mostly from China, Thailand, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia.

The general director kept an optimistic view about the investor’s opportunity in Vietnam in the future when answering the questions from local newspapers.

Though the bad infrastructure conditions were a big obstacle for the project, he said, the Highway N.o 51 from HCM City to Ba Ria – Vung Tau has been improved considerably with four lanes, while the East-West highway which has been completed by 80 percent would also help shorten the distance people have to travel.

The lack of electricity was also a big difficulty, which made the investor think of using electricity generators. However, this is no longer a problem, while the investor has been informed by the competent agencies that the project would have sufficient power in the future.

Compiled by C. V

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