From December 1, 2017, casino businesses will be officially covered by a specific legal framework. Circular 102 of the Ministry of Finance (MOF) that guides the implementation of Decree 03 will take effect on that day.
In 1992, the government of Vietnam was allowed to run casinos to satisfy demand of foreign travelers and expats. Eight casinos have been licensed, including one in Do Son, the first in Vietnam. They have been operating in accordance with Foreign Investment Law and 2005 Investment Law.
Decree 03 says Vietnamese citizens now can be admitted into domestic casinos on a three year trial basis. After that, the government will decide whether or not to continue allowing Vietnamese to go to casinos.
It is still unclear which casinos Vietnamese can enter. MOF on November 3 confirmed that the current regulation only stipulates that Vietnamese have to prove their financial capability to be eligible to enter a casino.
The regulation on allowing Vietnamese to go to casinos is the key factor prompting investors to pour money into casino projects, especially in the SEZs (special economic zones) of Van Don, Phu Quoc and Bac Van Phong.
In Van Don, the Quang Ninh provincial authorities have chosen Sun Group as the investor of a resort with casino. The project, covering an area of 2,500 hectares, has investment capital of $2 billion and investment duration of 50 years.
The local authorities of both Quang Ninh and Kien Giang have asked the government to open the casinos in the SEZs to Vietnamese.
Under the draft law on SEZ being compiled by the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), the casinos in SEZs would enjoy outstanding investment incentives. The luxury tax rate of 10 percent would be applied to casinos for 10 years instead of 30 percent currently.
The Thua Thien-Hue provincial People’s Committee recently asked for government permission to expand Laguna Lang Co and raise investment capital from $875 million to $2 billion. If the expansion is approved, the project would have a casino covering an area of 2.64 hectares.
Of eight casinos licensed so far, six are operational. The eight casinos are allowed to have 408 gambling tables and 4,570 machines. However, they have 134 tables and 995 machines, or just one-third of the permitted number.
Source: Kim Chi