he Institute of Regional Sustainable Development (IRSD) under the Viet Nam Academy of Social Science (VASS), funded by American Chamber of Commerce in Viet Nam, since April, 2015 has undertaken a study on the gaming industry in the country.
"This is the most complete research project ever on the gaming industry in Viet Nam, providing a scientific basis for the Government to consider suitable policies," Nguyen Quang Thuan, vice president of VASS, said at a meeting to release the study on Wednesday.
"The gaming industry in general and casino business in particular in Viet Nam is strictly managed. The gaming industry is divided into legal gambling activities that are allowed and supported by the state and illegal gambling activities," Thuan said.
A report by the Ministry of Finance said legal gaming businesses contribute significantly to the state budget. Revenue from the lottery business reached VND64 trillion (US$2.9 billion) in 2014, with the business contributing approximately VND20 trillion ($916.6 million) to the state budget. In the casino business, total revenue in 2014 reached over VND1.3 trillion ($63.2 million), while contributing VND336 billion ($15.4 million) to the State budget.
There are currently 200 illegal lottery vendors, located mainly in 18 major cities and provinces, generating transactions amounting from VND500 million (US$ 23,000) to billions of dong per day per vendor, according to the Ministry of Public Security (MPS).
MPS's report said in 2014, there were 345 people arrested with a total collected amount of nearly VND3 billion (US$ 137,500). On average, there are about 200 people traveling to Cambodia daily to gamble. On Saturdays and Sundays, this number increases to 700-800 people per day. Revenue of casinos in Cambodia is about US$ 250 million per year, and the majority of gamers are Vietnamese.
"Research indicates that the legal gambling industry and casino business could bring positive economic impacts such as revenues increase, job creation, improvement in local people's income, attraction of investment capital and contributions to the state budget," said deputy director of the Institute for Regional Sustainable Development Nguyen Dinh Chuc.
According to the research team, if foreign investment in the casino sector increased by about US$ 3 billion more than the present, GDP would increase by 0.58 percent.
The research did acknowledge negative social impacts such as reducing productivity, increasing organized crime and family-related problems, debts and bankruptcy. However, these social impacts are not always confirmed in studies and international practices have shown effective management measures.
A sociological survey also showed that people's attitudes toward casinos are quite open. Nearly 92 per cent of respondents have heard of casinos, though only about 13 per cent have been in one, 71 per cent predicted that many Vietnamese would enter casinos if allowed.
About 65 per cent of respondents agreed that gambling would generate revenue for the state budget, and nearly 53 per cent agreed that it would have a positive impact on reducing Vietnamese gambling abroad. About 47 per cent agreed that allowing local gaming would create jobs and about 46 per cent agreed that it would have a positive impact on the investment climate.
"Policy prescriptions for the gaming sector and casino industry should be based on global practices and an effective management model. It is necessary to develop a legal framework and business management mechanism that also addresses online gaming operations," Chuc said.
In order to manage the industry effectively and to avoid negative social impacts, a pilot program allowing Vietnamese citizens to participate in various forms of prize-winning games and entry into casinos is being recommended.
The pilot program should be implemented in operating casinos that are part of large-scale integrated entertainment complexes, and located in remote areas with tourism potential close to Ha Noi and HCM City, such as Ba Ria – Vung Tau and Phu Quoc. - VNS