Saigoneer

BackArts & Culture » Culture » Casinos in Vietnam: Boom or Bust?

Casinos in Vietnam: Boom or Bust?

As Vietnam continues to hand out investment licenses for massive casino projects, some wonder whether they will help boost tax revenues as the government hopes or become development albatrosses, sitting empty like a Pyongyang 5-star hotel.

Seeking to boost tourism revenues amidst an economic slump, Vietnamese authorities have granted 6 licenses for FDI heavy casinos. From beach towns like Vung Tao (as pictured above) to UNESCO world heritage sites like Ha Giang and Quang Binh, investors are looking to build and take advantage of Asia’s growing casino culture.

But with an entry fee significantly higher than neighboring countries (Vietnam requires a $4 billion investment threshold compared to $1 billion in the Philippines), the risks for developers are quite high. More importantly, Vietnamese citizens are banned from local casinos making them reliant on tourist dollars. According to Ben Lee, managing partner of IGamiX Management & Consulting Ltd in Singapore:

“Any gaming projects [in Vietnam] will be aimed squarely at the VIPs/high rollers from overseas. This business model…is extremely risky, as not only is the business itself subject to extreme volatility due to seasonality and air access factors, without the local mass to give the casinos that busy feel, the foreign VIPs may not return after their first visit.”

To address this, many have petitioned the government to allow Vietnamese citizens to patronize casinos. The argument is two-fold – 1) casinos cannot survive on foreign customers alone and 2) many Vietnamese gamble online and through illegal bookies, meaning huge sums of money are flowing out of the country, untaxed. To feed their gambling habits, some Vietnamese visit the notorious Cambodian casinos just across the border where stories of kidnapping and dismemberment are common.

As a result, the government may be changing its tune – last year, then finance minister Vuong Dinh Hue, visited Singapore to study the successful casino business there.

During the French and American occupations, casinos were common in Saigon. We're not sure if there were laws baring Vietnamese from entering, but one would imagine the majority of customers were foreigners. 

Head over to Thanh Nien to see the challenges Vietnam faces in balancing casino development with nature and local interests in addition to horror stories from investors.

Related Articles

in Culture

10 Incredible Churches in Nam Dinh

While they get the most attention, the Cathedrals in Saigon and Hanoi pale in comparison with Nam Dinh’s. Not only does the province boast this magnificent architectural specimen, but also a plethora ...

in Culture

10 Incredible Photos Of Life On Hanoi's Train Tracks

Traffic in Vietnam is crazy but the train tracks that skirt through Hanoi’s residential areas reach levels of insanity.

in Culture

10 Photos Of The Amazing Vietnamese Spider-Men

While some Vietnamese cities have begun to move their tangled nests of electricity wires underground, they are still a ubiquitous feature of many urban neighborhoods.

in Culture

12 Of Saigon’s Best Parks And Open Spaces – Part 1

Though Saigon has lost quite a bit of its verdant luster over the years, there are still patches of green throughout the city that are worth checking out. Vietnam Coracle has made a handy guide to som...

in Culture

14 Incredible Satellite Photos Of Vietnam

There are plenty of hi-tech ways to show Vietnam’s beauty – time lapses and drone panoramas to name a few. But a less common vantage point is from above. Way above.

in Culture

15 Amazing Moments Captured On Vietnam’s Streets

In Vietnamese cities, streets are where life happens. With few parks available to the country’s urban masses, they serve as everything from entertainment venues to wedding halls to restaurants. They a...

Partner Content