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Vietnam casino bill: $4 billion required

Saturday, September 22, 2012, 11:19 GMT+7

Investors should have at least US$4 billion worth of capital and ten years of experience in tourism management to be allowed to open a casino in Vietnam, which is only open to foreigners, the Ministry of Finance suggested in its draft decree. The decree on casino operating activities is now open for feedback from relevant ministries and agencies before being submitted to the government in the fourth quarter. “The to-be-developed casino should be located in the areas zoned for gambling activities approved by the Prime Minister, and investors should prove they are financially capable of completing the project,” said one of the decree developers who preferred to be anonymous. Investors will only receive the operation license when they have completed construction on the tourism, service, and entertaining complex where the casino is located. They are also requested to equip brand new machines, which should have adequate origins and technical certificates, at the venues. The draft decree also states that only foreigners and overseas Vietnamese holding foreign passports are allowed to enter the casinos. Players have the right to request anonymity in case they win prizes, and are also subject to financial penalties ranging from VND10 million to VND100 million ($500 – 5,000) if they breach casino regulations, cheating, or causing social disorders.Limited number Regarding whether Vietnam should be more open to casinos, many experts show their supports, but warn administrative authorities to be cautious. Economic expert Le Dang Doanh advised that Vietnam should ensure casino activities come under a close scrutiny from authorities. “Casino is a complicated business, though it brings in whopping profits. Even a developed country like Singapore has failed to adequately prevent the negative side of gambling from affecting society,” said Doanh, who holds a PhD degree. He reiterated the lesson learnt from the case of Do Son casino in the northern province of Hai Phong, where some local gamblers bribed to be able to play, and ended up losing all of their properties. Similarly, despite supporting casino openings in Vietnam, Professor Nguyen Mai, former Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, said the country should limit the number of casinos. Dr. Doanh concurred, saying the casino should only be located in islands such as Phu Quoc or Van Don. “It’s not an appropriate move to put the casino near the cultural and political centers, or areas with high population density,” he said.

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