We receive some 6 million tourists annually; however, they do not stay for long because Quang Ninh does not have many entertainment facilities," said Nguyen Van Doc, chairman of the Quang Ninh People's Committee.
Minister Vu Duc Dam, chief of the Government Office, has confirmed that the Government was considering licensing a huge resort complex including a casino in northern coastal Quang Ninh Province's Van Don District. "The Ministry of Planning and Investment was ordered to consider (and assess the feasibility of) the project," he told a press conference on March 6.
Located on 1,800 ha in Van Yen Commune, the complex is expected to help develop the Northern Economic Zone and attract more visitors, especially foreign tourists, to the province. The complex, to cost us$ 4-5 billion, is among 18 projects Quang Ninh authorities are seeking investment in. "We receive some 6 million tourists annually," Nguyen Van Doc, chairman of the Quang Ninh People's Committee, said. "However, they do not stay for long because Quang Ninh does not have many entertainment facilities."
Dang Huy Hau, his deputy, has been quoted as saying provincial authorities had to think twice before submitting the project to the Government. Hau declined to give a direct answer to a question if local visitors would be admitted to the Quang Ninh casino, but quoted surveys in the local media as saying that most visitors at some casinos in Cambodia were Vietnamese.
"If Vietnamese are not allowed to visit casinos at home, they would go to casinos abroad. And so the Vietnamese government fails to get tax from its citizens. If we are not brave, we would find it difficult to develop the economy."
In the coming years, Viet Nam needs to develop a number of international-standard tourism complexes, including casinos, the chairman of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Vu Tien Loc, said. However, as a late-comer, Viet Nam should take "cautious" steps, to better benefit from such entertainment services but at the same time avoid the "negative effects" they may have on the society.
Economist Pham Chi Lan is worried about the effect of these casinos on society. "As casinos are not officially permitted at home, many Vietnamese people visit casinos in Cambodia and Macau. So, would there be a gambling boom when casino are licensed here?" Lan was quoted by the BBC (Vietnamese) as saying.
Economist Bui Kien Thanh expressed similar concerns, saying Viet Nam should not develop casinos. Only an insignificant minority of Vietnamese visited overseas casinos, while licensing casinos would affect the culture of the majority, he said. "It is unnecessary for Viet Nam to have casinos," he said.
Phan Huu Thang, ex-chief of the Agency of Foreign Investment, told VIR that casinos should never be a "taboo" for foreign investors. However, only localities with certain socio-economic conditions should be allowed to have casinos.
Viet Nam has yet to license casinos, but the Government has granted licences to a number of entertainment-gaming complexes in southern Phu Quoc Island, the New City in central Phu Yen Province, Silver Shores and Furama in central Da Nang and Sai Gon Atlantic in southern Vung Tau. None of them admit local visitors.
Sheldon Adelson, chair of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, one of the world's leading resort developers, has expressed interest in building resort complexes worth as much as us$ 6 billion in HCM City and Ha Noi.