Casinos in Vietnam earned VND1.37 trillion (US$61.56 million) from foreign punters or foreign passport holders in 2014, which is however still modest compared to the amount of money Vietnamese bettors spent on gambling in Cambodia.
The revenue was collectively generated by the country’s only eight licensed gambling establishments, where no Vietnamese are allowed to enter, the Institute of Regional Sustainable Development said at a conference in Hanoi on Wednesday.
The Southeast Asian country is now home to 64 lottery firms, eight legal casinos, and two sports betting establishments, according to a report on Vietnam’s gambling sector conducted by the institute under the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences.
Last year these legal casinos contributed around 40 percent of their revenue, or $24.62 million, to the stage budget, according to the report.
The Ministry of Finance said the figure was only $15.13 million, according to data obtained by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
Vietnamese lottery companies posted around $3 billion in earnings in 2014, and contributed around $1 billion to the state coffers. The lottery revenue was only $2.86 billion, according to data from the finance ministry.
A number of illegal gambling facilities across the country are gaining huge profits from local punters on a daily basis, even though there are no precise statistics, the Institute of Regional Sustainable Development said at the conference.
There are now 200 illegal bookmakers of the numbers game in 18 cities and provinces in Vietnam, who can earn VND500 million to billions of dong from gamblers every day, according to a report by the Ministry of Public Security.
In Vietnam, numbers games are considered an illegal lottery, wherein a bettor attempts to pick certain digits to match those that will be randomly drawn from the official lottery the following day.
The Institute of Regional Sustainable Development also found that there is an average of 200 Vietnamese people crossing the border in the southern province of Tay Ninh to enter Cambodia for gambling on a daily basis, and up to 800 on weekends.
“Cambodia’s gaming revenue is around $250 million a year, and most of the punters are Vietnamese,” the institute said in its report.
With local gamblers losing money to casinos in Cambodia, Singapore or Macau, the Ministry of Finance has proposed allowing Vietnamese residents to gamble at home.
In the latest amendment to a draft decree on the gaming business unveiled in September last year, the ministry suggested that anyVietnamese above 21 years of age with adequate financial ability should be permitted to play at casinos operating in the country.
Such a proposition is seen as “positive progress,” which indicates that Vietnam has taken one step closer to lifting the ban on local gamblers.
In its previous draft versions, the ministry recommended that only international gamblers and foreign passport holders should be allowed to enter casinos in Vietnam.
However, the debate over whether Vietnamese punters should be permitted to gamble at home is still ongoing and no progress has been made in the past year.