Vietnam allows only foreign tourists to gamble at its casinos as locals are currently banned from gambling. There have been attempts in the past to lift the ban on local gambling but so far nothing positive has materialized. The local Thanh Nien newspaper recently confirmed that the central government had prepared a national draft decree on the gaming industry and the draft once again stipulates that locals must not be allowed to gamble in any of Vietnam’s casinos.

Citigroup Global Markets Inc believes that Vietnam’s stance against allowing locals to gamble will continue to benefit the NagaWorld casino in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. NagaCorp, the company which operates the casino recently opened out the NagaCity Walk shopping complex which is linked to the NagaWorld casino.

In a statement, Anil Daswani, George Choi and Aras Poon, analysts from Citigroup said “In our view, if the Vietnamese government maintains the status quo on its gaming laws and regulations, it could be a major overhang removed for NagaWorld. Players from Vietnam represent around 10 percent to 20 percent of NagaWorld’s mass players, on our estimates, and we believe NagaWorld will continue to see Vietnamese players crossing borders and gaming in Cambodia.”

Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd, a brokerage firm, believes that if the Vietnam government continues to maintain its gambling ban on locals, it will hurt the country’s chances of attracting foreign investment from integrated casino operators who were looking to develop new casinos in Vietnam.

Back in April 2016, there were talks of a new casino being developed in Quang Nam Province as VinaCapital Group, a local asset management firm, Suncity Group, a junket operator in Macau and Hong Kong’s Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd wanted to develop a casino resort. Vietnam’s current regulations require foreign operators to be able to invest a minimum of $4 billion should they decide to develop a new casino resort in Vietnam. Suncity would go on to confirm in May 2016, that the company planned to open three hotels but did not confirm its gaming plans.

The Grand Ho Tram casino resort located in the Ba Ria-Vung Tau province which is not very far from Ho Chi Minh City also wants the ban on locals to be lifted. The management had stated back in 2014 that they hoped the government would consider the venue to be a part of the pilot programme which would permit locals to gamble. There have been suggestions put forward that the government can put in place regulations for local visitors to ensure that only those who meet these regulations will be allowed to gamble inside the casino.

The Las Vegas Sands Corp along with other foreign casino investors have all expressed interest in Vietnam’s casino industry but have not take it further mainly because of the ban on locals and an over dependency on foreign tourists.

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