Gambling Business in Vietnam: What Can Foreign Investors Expect?

By Dang The Duc, Vo Huu Tu, and Marc Desert


In early December 2011, the United States company Las Vegas Sands, primary investor in the Singapore Marina Bay Sands, announced a vision of investing in two huge resort complexes, one each in Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. The total invested capital would reach US$6 billion and would represent the most important foreign invested project ever conducted in Vietnam. It is clear that the Las Vegas Sands investment project is very attractive and will boost tourism in the country; however its social evils are less predictable. The very attractive large-scale investment project - which integrates casinos - has also reawakened the legal debate on gambling regulations in Vietnam.

Under the laws of Vietnam, gambling is not "encouraged'". It has been prohibited for many years because it was seen as contrary to the country's habits and customs. The casino business is still considered a sensitive business in Vietnam. Currently, the top products in most casinos, the "prize-winning games" (such as Aruze, Aristocrat, WMS, Blackjack, Roulette) are only open to use by foreigners and overseas Vietnamese.

During the last decade lawmakers have taken more than some little deliberation in opening the casino business to investments in Vietnam. Accordingly, the Vietnamese Government has licensed some casino projects in the country, even in the absence of legal framework for this business. The first casino in Vietnam is Do Son Casino in Hai Phong City, which was licensed back in 1992. The recently licensed projects are Crowne International Casino in Da Nang City, and MGM Ho Tram Casino in Ba Ria - Vung Tau Province, which are granted as part of mega entertainment and tourism complexes.

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