Van Don casino proposal gets muted response | Halong Bay Airport

Van Don casino proposal gets muted response

The development of large-scale casinos nationwide has raised concerns over the growth of a future Van Don Special Economic Zone.

The Vietnamese government is now planning to establish a tourism-focused special economic zone in Van Don in the northern border province of Quang Ninh, in which an integrated casino resort would play a vital role.

Even though the Vietnamese government is considering allowing Vietnamese nationals to enter the proposed casino, the concept of choosing the location for a state-of-the-art casino has raised concerns given the ample other options in the country.

A representative of the American Chamber of Commerce (Am Cham), who represented American investors at a conference on social economic zones recently held in Quang Ninh, said the Vietnamese government should carefully consider the development of a casino integrated resort complex in Van Don.

She said there was already a rash of large-scale casinos planned for Vietnam so the appearance of an additional casino could cause an oversupply in this sector.

“If we just build small casinos like in the Crowne Plaza Danang, it is not a problem. But if we want to build large-scale casinos in Vietnam, we should think about demand,” she said, explaining that the income per capita in Vietnam remains low, therefore building many large-scale casinos is not effective.

Although the government has licensed the development of seven casinos in the country over the past 20 years, with five already in operation and two currently under construction.

The country’s largest casino project is the Ho Tram Strip in the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau, developed by Canada’s Asia Coast Development Limited. This US$ 4.2 billion project will comprise of five resorts and a casino of 180 tables and 2,000 electronic prized gaming machines. Last July, the Ho Tram Strip opened its first resort and a part of the casino to receive guests.

The US’ Peninsular Pacific is planning to cooperate with Vietnam- focused asset management firm VinaCapital to develop a casino integrated resort complex similar to the scale of the Ho Tram Strip in the central province of Quang Nam. Phu Quoc Island in the southern province of Kien Giang has also been earmarked for yet another state-of-the-art casino integrated resort.

Le Vu Thanh, chief representative of the US-ASEAN Business Council in Vietnam, believed that even four or five large scale casinos would be too many for Vietnam.

“To successfully develop such major casinos we must remember that the main players should be Vietnamese, not foreigners. I don’t think Vietnam needs many big casinos,” said Thanh.

He cited the case back in 2008 when a well-known American casino operator came to Vietnam to explore investment opportunities but withdrew at the prospect of only three casinos being planned for the country.     

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