On 20 January 2017, the Government issued a long-awaiting casino business decree No. 03/2017/ND-CP (Casino Decree) allowing Vietnamese nationals to gamble in the country fort the first time in history on this scale.
Here are the key features of the Casino Decree:
- Casino business, as defined by Casino Decree, means prize winning games on (i) electronic gaming machine with prizes (i.e. – men vs. machine) and (ii) gaming table with prizes (i.e. – men vs. men).
- Casino business is treated as a conditional business sector. Investors must apply for a licence which is evidenced by a certificate of satisfaction of casino business conditions (the Casino Business License in short).
- A casino must be located inside a larger resort complex or the like. No separate casino sites are permitted. This requirement obliges the applying entities to go through 02 licensing processes, which are:
(i) An investment registration certificate for resort complex (IRC); and
(ii) A Casino Business License for the casino itself.
- A Casino Business License’s term is within 20 years from the date of issuing the relevant IRC or in-principle approval of the investment. Another 10 year extension is permitted but still within the lifespan of IRC.
- Conditions are various and somewhat ambiguous and discretionary including a US$2 billion of total investment capital. 50% of which must be contributed before issuance of the Casino Business License
- Local Vietnamese will be permitted to gamble at specific casinos approved by competent authority on a 3-year trial basis (i.e. – calculating from the first day opening of the authorized integrated resorts). According to the public media, only 02 casinos are open to Vietnamese individuals on a 3-year piloting scheme, which are located within complex resorts in Phu Quoc District, Kien Giang Province (South Vietnam) and Van Don District, Quang Ninh Province (North Vietnam). Probably the Ho Tram Resort will join the list.
- Local players are permitted to enter casinos if they essentially satisfy 05 following conditions:
(i) 21 years old or above;
(ii) Monthly salary of VND10 million or more (equivalent to approximately US$440);
(iii) Paying entrance fee of VND1 million (US$44)/24 hours/ person or VND25 million (USD1,100)/ month/ person;
(iv) Not being objected in writing by siblings, spouses and/or biological and adopted parents to play at casinos;
- Vietnamese currency is the only currency used for conversion transactions at casinos for local players.
- For local players, entrance fee for a 24 hour participation is US$45 (or $1,100 for a monthly unlimited pass).
- Number of gaming tables and gaming machines depends on investment size. That is, for each US$10 million lot that the investor actually released, a package of 1 gaming table and 10 gaming machines are permitted.