Foreign owners of casino projects are shaping fledgling gaming industry

By Dang Hoa - May 31, 2018 | 08:17 AM GMT+7

TheLEADERIn the context of a thriving tourism industry with a rapid growing number of international visitors, the emerge of big casino business service projects owned by Banyan Tree Holdings, Suncity or Las Vegas Sands is one of the crucial strategy to harvest from overseas tourists.

Foreign owners of casino projects are shaping fledgling gaming industry
Casino has its own appeal to real estate giants

Vietnam currently has four casinos under construction, namely Laguna Lang Co, Van Don, Phu Quoc and Hoiana besides from the seven casinos for foreigners, which have been licensed and operated.

Most noticeably, Singaporean investors, Banyan Tree Holdings received license for investing and operating casino business for Laguna Lang Co project from Thua Thien Hue province, which is expected to go into operation by 2021 as an integrated casino entertainment service.

Under this license, Laguna Vietnam will increase its chartered capital from $175 million to $300 million and increase its investment capital from $875 million to $2 billion to supplement its casino business and additional construction items.

The casino business is proposed to occupy an area of 2.64 hectare with an estimated total investment capital of $250 million.

Another huge casino project in Vietnam, Hoiana casino project, is a part of the largest complex resort project ($4 billion), whose stakeholders are Suncity Group, a casino operator based in the world’s largest casino hub, Macau; VMS Investment Group, a leader in multi-strategy investments; and VinaCapital, one of the largest foreign investors in Vietnam’s real estate market.

Hoiana casino with Coteccons as the main contractor, is expected to go into operation in the first quarter of 2019.

Planning to build casino in the special economic zones(SEZs) such as Van Don district, Phu Quoc island and Northern Van Phong port, policy makers in Vietnam also aim to use casino services as the driver of the economy, contributing to the State budget.

According to the draft Law on Special Administrative – Economic Zones, casinos in SEZs are expected to enjoy a special consumption tax incentive of 15 percent for the first 10 years, which is a great incentive to attract cash flow from investors.

For instance, Sungroup Group invested in a high-end tourism complex with casino in Van Don, with total area of 2,500 hectares and total investment capital of over $2 billion.

Phu Quoc Investment and Tourism Development Joint Stock Company invested in Phu Quoc Island Complex, which also includes casino business.

The project is built on an area of 37 hectares, belonging to a new high-end ecotourism complex with many entertainment services; a casino with 400 gaming tables and 2,000 gaming machines; international conference center and 5-star hotels with 3,000 rooms.

It is noteworthy that two casino projects currently underway in Phu Quoc island and Van Don district are creating a huge amount of heat as these two projects will be part of a pilot program that would allow Vietnamese citizens to gamble at casinos for the first time.

This pilot program will be implemented for 3 years once these casinos are eligible to operate.

Over the past few years, Las Vegas Sands has been pursuing the dream of opening casinos in the two big cities of Vietnam, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Representatives of Las Vegas Sands confirmed that besides Singapore, Vietnam is one of the two strategic destinations of this casino corporation in the future. However, Las Vegas Sands would only invest in building casino when Vietnamese are allowed to play.

The race to open the casino, especially in the special economic zones is now intensified than ever, since the Decree 03 of the Government regulates that Vietnamese are piloted to play casino within places that meet requirements of this Decree.

However, at present, there are still no specific guidelines indicating which casinos allow Vietnamese to gamble in.

Although the number of international visitors, especially Chinese tourists in Vietnam has increased sharply in recent years, this figure is still unable to meet the needs of the currently operating casinos in Vietnam with four other casinos that are under construction.

This is because most of existing casinos in Vietnam are still located in remote area, far away from the center making it difficult to attract foreign players. 

Once Vietnamese is allowed to play at the casinos, it is clear that foreign giants such as Las Vegas Sands will not hesitate to jump into the race to open a casino in Vietnam.