An overlooked component of Vietnam’s travel industry are “casinos”, those bastions of games of “chance” which benefit governments and operators alike.
Because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, and Vietnam’s tight restrictions on foreigners entering the country, a group of casino owners have petitioned authorities to allow their facilities in major travel destinations such as Quang Nam and Ba Ria – Vung Tau be opened to Vietnamese citizens and that casinos across the country be allowed to take advantage of domestic demand.
After Vietnam closed its borders to international visitors last year, all components of the travel industry – including airlines, hotels, resorts, entertainment facilities, and ground facilities incurred major financial and operational difficulties, and the result has been closure and bankruptcy by many companies of all size.
Currently, under Vietnamese law, there are only two casinos, one on the southern island of Phu Quoc and the other in Van Don in the northern province of Quang Ninh, that are allowed to admit Vietnamese citizens.
The Vietnamese government, built upon a mixture of both socialist ideology and capitalism has treated legal gambling operations as a complex issue that has the ability to provide benefits, yet also has ability to cause societal problems.
In January 2019 the government began a three-year trial, which has allowed certain casinos to open their doors and gambling tables to Vietnamese citizens. The program does not specify the list of casinos, and licenses are instead given on a case-by-case basis.
Vietnamese citizens who want to gamble in a casino must be over 21, earn a minimum of VND10 million ($430) a month and have no criminal record or objections from their family.
They must also pay a fee of VND1 million ($43) per day to enter the casinos. Frequent gamblers have the option to pay 25 million VND per month ($1,000) if they want to visit casinos on a daily basis.
Vietnam has eight casinos that earned more than $100 million USD in 2019, according to Ministry of Finance data and casino operators are anxious for more Vietnamese to visit their establishments. According to Casino Corona in Phu Quoc, the first casino that was allowed to open to locals, Vietnamese accounted for 45% of their gamblers in 2019.