eveloping a tourism and casino complex is not a new move for countries in the region and in other parts of the world, VCCI Chairman Vu Tien Loc told a conference on promoting tourism in northern Quang Ninh Province last week.
Loc said that Southeast Asia is currently home to 200 licensed casinos. In the neighboring country of Cambodia, there are 14 casinos, he said. “Reality has proved that licensing the operation of casinos can yield many economic benefits,” he added. “For instance, Las Vegas has turned the US southwest deserts into an active urban area, which reaps annual profits of dozens of billions of dollars.”
The chairman thus demanded that Vietnam build some tourism-entertainment complexes, including casinos, at world-class levels in the coming years. “However, Vietnam should take careful steps in implementing the plan, in order to minimize the negative affects the casinos can have on society,” he cautioned.
Lack of legal frameworks
Loc said Vietnam has granted licenses to many entertainment-gaming complexes of various scale in Phu Quoc, New City in Phu Yen Province, Silver Shores and Furama in Da Nang, and Saigon Atlantic in Vung Tau. However, all of these projects have been hindered, since there are yet to be any fully developed legal regulations for casino activities, added Loc.
He said the Ministry of Finance is collecting feedback on a draft regulation targeting the gambling activities it has recently developed. “I think the largest obstacle in legalizing casino operations is the social awareness and the relevant legal framework,” shared Loc.
“Once we can solve the problems and put the casino into use, it will benefit not only the casino, but also the tourism industry.”
Sharing Loc’s view, Tetsu Asano, chairman of GM Hong Kong, which is investing in many casino projects in Vietnam, said many countries have borne sweet fruits from licensing casino operations. For instance, he said, local citizens in Macau receive substantial welfare from casino profits, while the casino’s contribution to the Singaporean state budget has soared after just two years.
According to AFP, the two casinos in Sentosa and Marina Bay account for 14.7 percent of Singapore GDP in 2010. “Fairly speaking, opening casinos will inevitably affect the society,” said Asano. “However, after all, we will have more positive factors than negative ones.”
Mobilizing capital and licensing casinos in Vietnam has recently attracted special attention from investors. Earlier this month, the northern province of Quang Ninh announced that it is seeking investment to build a casino worth us$ 4 billion, a project it said has been green-lighted by the Prime Minister.
Las Vegas Sands Corporation, one of the world’s leading resort developers, also said recently it was contemplating investing us$ 6 billion to build tourism-entertaining complexes and casinos in Vietnam.