In 2017, Vietnam took steps to open up games of chance to players who were foreign passport holders, or fulfilled certain criteria. Seeing the potential for tourism via gambling to contribute to the country’s economy, a range of new casinos opened, the largest of which is the casino/hotel The Grand Ho Tram Strip. As an immense undertaking, the construction of this hotel has raised the international profile of Vietnamese gambling, even if playing isn’t quite as simple as showing up at the door.
Construction and Design
The very first steps in the construction of the Ho Tram Strip project began in July of 2008. According to the Ho Tram Strip website, construction began in earnest a year later, while the first team arrived in 2012. The official opening took place on July 26th, 2013, when the establishment worked as a hotel and resort.
Eventually, the resort would go on to offer 548 rooms in the flagship InterContinental main tower in 2021, with the second tower, the Holiday Inn Resort Ho Tram Beach opening with 561 rooms in 2022. This five-star hotel offers a full range of amenities, including swimming pools, beachfront access, and as stated by Golf Digest, an adjacent multi-award-winning golf course.
The expansion of the hotel to offer a casino required a design and reimagining of what the resort could offer. As a considerable project, this redesign required billions of dollars of investment to match the standard set by the rest of the hotel. The finished casino would include 5,000 square feet of playing space, with more than 500 electronic gaming machines and 90 live gaming tables. It was this development which allowed it to qualify for the newly implemented Vietnamese gambling license.
Gambling within Vietnam
Playing at The Grand Ho Tram Strip casino is simple for international passport holders, but the same hasn’t been true for Vietnamese citizens. Acting as part of a national trial, Vietnamese players needed to prove a monthly income exceeding US$449, and were required to pay an additional $49 entry tax.
A popular alternative to physical gambling within Vietnam has arrived with online betting websites. 188Bet is an online system that allows gamblers in Vietnam full access to sports betting, casino games, e-sports betting, and the bonuses like deposit matches that come with online play. With access from anywhere with a mobile device, this approach has been a popular alternative to brick-and-mortar systems like the Grand Ho Tram.
While The Grand Ho Tram has become an international hit, it also could represent a new step for Vietnam in the same vein as Macau or Las Vegas. World-class gambling on top of a world-class hotel and resort makes one of Asia’s tourist hotspots even more appealing for certain types of travelers. The 2020s could prove a time when this new approach takes off, offering significant implications for the Vietnamese tourism economy.