In an ambitious bid to expand its tourism and entertainment sector, Vietnam’s government is contemplating the creation of a lavish integrated resort casino, with an estimated cost of $2.2 billion. Nestled within the Van Don Special Economic Zone in the Quang Ninh Province, which lies in the picturesque northeastern part of the nation, this resort casino could emerge as a beacon of luxury and entertainment.
This significant venture has been put forth by the Vietnam Ministry of Planning and Investment, which has recently delivered a comprehensive report to Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh. The proposal maps out a vision for a VN$51.55 trillion (US$2.18 billion) development that encompasses a full-scale casino alongside multiple resort facilities focused on harnessing the affluent potential of the Van Yen Village located within the zone.
The government’s strategic deployment of Special Economic Zones aims to magnetize foreign investment and catalyze socio-economic growth, strengthening the financial reservoir for national defense and security. Injection of such a high-profile project into Van Don is anticipated to stimulate the local economy, providing employment opportunities for over 6,000 individuals and generating an estimated annual state revenue of VN$8.16 trillion (US$336 million).
Vietnam has a history of regulated casino activities mainly catering to foreign visitors. However, to stifle the rise of illegal gambling operations, the legislature, in a groundbreaking move in 2017, paved the way for Vietnamese citizens to enter the casino dome with certain restrictions. Integral to this regulation tweak was the opening of the very first local-access casino, the Corona Resort & Casino, in 2019 within the southern Phu Quoc City. This establishment boasts an impressive array of gaming options, including around 1,000 slot machines and 100 gaming tables.
The intricate maze of legislation surrounding casinos in Vietnam stipulates that Vietnamese citizens indulge in gaming activities with stringent checks in place, such as age limits and daily wagering caps. On the other hand, foreigners desirous of soaking in the Vietnamese casino experience must substantiate a minimum monthly income to gain access to these gaming havens.
With eyes set on stimulating the northeastern part of Vietnam, the proposed second local-access casino eyes construction commencement as early as next year, with a timeline to open doors to the public by 2032, dependent on executive approval.
Even as Vietnam ventures deeper into the casino industry, it faces international scrutiny over concerns about money laundering. The recent enactment of anti-money laundering legislation requires stringent reporting of large transactions. Still, skepticism looms as the efficacy of regulatory frameworks concerning casinos and Special Economic Zones has come under the microscope, with international bodies highlighting the urgency for more robust safeguards to mitigate burgeoning risks.
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