Vietnam’s program to determine if locals can gamble at casinos responsibly may remain longer than previously thought. It was to remain in place until sometime this year, but might stay until 2024.
For the past couple of years, Vietnam has been running a pilot program to determine if locals could handle gambling at casinos without becoming addicts. Lawmakers approved the program in 2017 before launching it two years later, and it is coming to an end this year.
But because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, authorities are saying they haven’t been able to gather adequate data. As a result, Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance wants to extend it until 2024, as reported by Vietnam Net Global.
Too Early to Call It
Officials had selected two properties to participate in, but everything is moving very slowly. The first, the Corona Resort and Casino in Phu Quoc, opened in 2019. It then shut down because of COVID-19. Of the 240,560 visitors who visited the casino through September of last year, 65% were locals.
The program at the second, in the Van Don Economic Zone in the province of Quang Ninh, never started. That’s because the casino still isn’t open.
Although other casinos were available when the pilot program was put in place, authorities felt these two would make the best candidates. The Van Don venue was initially prepared to begin operations in 2019.
The lack of domestic and international tourism has hindered Vietnam’s economic growth considerably. As a result, and without access to both venues, there is no way to make a proper assessment of the gambling pilot program.
Casino Expansion for the Program
The Ministry of Finance also believes that there is justification to expand the plan to include additional venues. He suggests adding two more, which would give authorities plenty of options for pooling data.
One of the properties is on Hon Tre Island in Nha Trang. This property is a successful resort that is under the umbrella of Vinpearl, a hospitality company with activity across Vietnam. Not only is the resort a good target for the pilot program, but it is also important to the local economy.
Vinpearl, a subsidiary of Vingroup, has invested around US$1.12 billion into the property’s amenities. However, the pandemic continues to put pressure on its operations. Including it in the pilot scheme could give it the financial injection it needs.
The other potential target is a venue in Sun World Ba Na Hill in Da Nang. The area has no large casino but is a popular tourist destination. Adding a large-scale casino would make it more attractive.
A third region wanted to join the program. Binh Thuan, in the Dai Duong valley, requested permission. However, the Ministry of Finance turned it down. It explained that the lack of international tourism to the area kept it from being a good candidate.
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