Vietnam does not allow locals to gamble at brick-and-mortar casinos in the country. However, it makes an exception for gambling enthusiasts that play at the Corona Resort & Casino in Phu Quoc.
These players, as well as those frequenting a more rural casino in Quang Ninh Province, are part of a pilot casino program that allows locals to gamble legally in the country. The goals of the program are to determine whether casinos should accept locals, how that would affect investors and if domestic gamblers playing at casinos would affect social order.
COVID-19 Limited the Effectiveness of the Pilot Program
The casino pilot program started in 2019 and was supposed to last three years. However, to the delight of many Vietnamese casino enthusiasts, the program will likely be extended until 2024.
In addition, it might also include two new casinos, with the Nam Hoi An and Ho Tram casinos being mentioned as the favourites to enter the pilot scheme.
The reason for the extension of the deadline and expansion of the program is the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Nguyen Duc Chi, the Deputy Minister of Finance in the Vietnamese government, they had already asked the Politburo to prolong the deadline by two years, as COVID-19 limited the effectiveness of the trial.
For instance, a report recently said that local gamblers contributed just 5% (US$5.9 million) in Corona Resort’s revenue in the three years since the start of the trial.
In fact, Vietnam was one of the hardest hit countries in Asia with COVID-19 wreaking havoc on everything from online book shopping to casino gambling.
Chi added that the pandemic had a great impact on not just the country’s production, tourism, and hospitality sectors, but also on casinos. As a result, the government was not able to “evaluate the effectiveness of the pilot programme,” so it was essential it was extended until 2024.
Pilot Program Allows Government to Better Manage Casinos
If the program is extended, it will likely feature not two, but four casinos. The two new additions are expected to be the Ho Tram casino and Nam Hoi An casino.
Professor Ha Ton Vinh told VietnamNet that extending and expanding the program with two more casinos was a good idea because it would allow the Vietnamese government to successfully manage activities in casinos, meet the needs of investors, and not disrupt social order when all locals are finally allowed to gamble legally.
Professor Vinh said that “many large-scale casinos” in the country would be able to welcome domestic players and help authorities gauge the effectiveness of the pilot program.
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