The addition of a casino on Phu Quoc Island in South Vietnam has reportedly been given the green light by authorities there.
According to a Thursday report from Vietnamese online newspaper, VnExpress, the People’s Committee of Kien Giang Province announced that Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc approved the inclusion, with the media outlet adding that including the casino, VND50 trillion (US$2.14 billion) is the island resort project’s overall investment.
Phu Quoc Tourism Development and Investment JSC are reportedly promoting the Phu Quoc casino project, with the latter of the two controlled by Vietnamese conglomerate Vingroup, which in turn is controlled by billionaire property developer Phạm Nhật Vượng.
While there are several casinos in the country, Vietnamese citizens were prohibited from gambling within its borders unless they possessed a foreign passport. And in Phu Quoc, since March 2014, foreigners have been permitted to visit for as many as 30 days without a visa. However, the ban restricting locals from gambling limited the prospects of any casino there to a mere 20 percent of the visitors to the Vietnamese island who possess foreign passports, according to earlier reports.
Local’s ban lifted:
In spring last year, the ban was lifted by the government. The move was preceded by a decree in January 2017, which permitted locals who fit certain income requirements to gamble at selected casinos on trial basis.
Customers are reportedly required to be aged 21 or older and have a minimum monthly income of VND10 million (US$427.40). Furthermore, only those casino resorts possessing a total minimum capital investment of US$2 billion, which includes both gaming and non-gaming facilities, are eligible to permit entrance to locals to gamble.
Estimated completion date:
According to the media report, the under-construction resort, also includes hotels, conference facilities and shops, is slated to be completed by 2021. Whether or not the public would be welcome in the casino portion, was unclear, however.
In November 2016, Professor Augustine Ha Ton Vinh (pictured), an expert on the country’s gaming industry, told GGRAsia, about the plan by Vietnam’s Politburo to permit locals to gamble “on a trial basis for three years,” at two casinos, one located in Van Don Special Economic Zone at Ha Long Bay North Vietnam and the other on Phu Quoc Island, according to the news agency. According to a study conducted by Ton Vinh, the country loses as much as $800 million in tax revenues every year from Vietnamese gamblers due to the ban cross the border to Cambodia.
According to VnExpress, the average annual income in Vietnam was around $2,200 last year.