Mega Casinos coming to Vietnam
Earlier this month Vu Duc Dam (Minister and Chairman of the Government Office) told a press conference that the government was weighing up the advantages and disadvantages of casino projects proposed for Vietnam as well as, “actively studying other betting models in countries which already had legal gambling activities.”
Vietnam already has a number of licensed casino-style gaming venues, but none of them are open to locals and none of them are close to the scale of projects being proposed. Phu Quoc Island in southern Kien Giang Province and Quang Ninh Province on the north coast where a 1,800 hectare area has already been earmarked for an integrated casino resort expected to cost up to US$4 billion are the locations being talked about.
But if LV Sands chief Sheldon Adelson gets way (and it seems he usually does), Ho Chi Min City and Hanoi may have mega casinos of their own. Adelson has announced to the world that his Las Vegas Sands Corp is ready to concurrently construct two giant casinos – one in Ho Chi Min City, the other in Hanoi, each costing somewhere between $2 and $4 billion (apparently it’s hard to accurately estimate construction costs in Vietnam due to high inflation). In December last year he met with several Vietnamese government officials to sell his vision and I imagine the discussion would have gone something like this…
Adelson: “Would you like a whole lot more gaming tax revenue?”
Government: “Yes please”
Adelson: “Would you like Integrated resorts that will significantly boost tourism to Vietnam?”
Government: “Yes please”
Adelson: “Do you want me to build these casinos for you…casinos like the fabulously successful Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, and the Venetian Macau?”
Government: “Yes please. Can you build them in Kien Giang and Quang Ninh ?”
Adelson: “No. But I can build them in Ho Chi Min City and Hanoi”
Government: “OK then, but will you build them if they can only be open to foreigners?”
Adelson: “No. But I can build them if they are open to anyone“
Government: “Hmmm. We will first undertake a thorough review into the suitability of all possible options, and then we will agree to your proposal. Please continue planning the construction of your casinos”
I’m sure plenty of other large casino corporations will be wanting to throw their hats in the ring for any licenses that are going to be handed out. Asia is after all the (not so new) promised land when it comes to casino gaming and increasingly more attractive for operators than the anemic US casino towns. PriceWaterhouseCoopers predict that Asia will represent 43 per cent of the global casino market by 2015, up 14 percent from 2010, and growth numbers out of Macau and Singapore suggest this to be a pretty conservative prediction.
Names like Wynn, Caesars, Genting and Galaxy will be fighting hard for the chance to be among the first casinos in Vietnam to open their doors to both tourists and a local population of nearly 90 million people.
That’s a lot of Dong!