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Ministry seeks 11th delay for $4bn casino complex in southern Vietnam

Ministry seeks 11th delay for $4bn casino complex in southern Vietnam

Thursday, November 16, 2023, 19:12 GMT+7
Ministry seeks 11th delay for $4bn casino complex in southern Vietnam
A completed, operational component of the Grand Ho Tram Strip casino resort complex is seen in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, southern Vietnam. Photo: H.T. / Tuoi Tre

The Ministry of Planning and Investment has recently proposed an extension of the implementation period for the sky-high Grand Ho Tram Strip casino project in Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province, southern Vietnam until 2027, marking the 11th instance where the developer has requested a modification to the construction timeline for the casino.

The ministry has submitted the proposal to the prime minister.

Ho Tram Project Company (HTP) secured the investment license for the casino resort complex in 2008, at an initial cost of around US$4.23 billion.

The project is situated in Xuyen Moc District of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province and includes a 5-star hotel with 9,000 rooms, villas, a 18-hole golf course, an international conference center, and utility areas.

HTP has so far disbursed approximately $1.3 billion, or around 30.9 percent of the total project investment, with their own capital standing at about $660 million, according to the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

The complex was originally expected to fully open its doors in 2014 as per the initial investment plan approved by the ministry.

HTP managed to obtain permission to extend the project’s implementation time on several occasions, with the latest approved delay being in 2025, and is currently proposing the 11th extension.

The firm attributes the sluggish development of the project to the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic and the less-than-optimal transportation link between Ho Chi Minh City and Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province. 

These challenges, coupled with prolonged legal procedures for construction and design, have prompted HTP to propose the further extension of the project implementation period until the end of 2027.

The investor assures that by the fourth quarter of 2027, in the event that 9,000 hotel rooms are not finalized, the number of game tables will be scaled down, maintaining a ratio of no more than two tables per 100 hotel rooms.

Continuous losses

The Grand Ho Tram Strip opened in 2013 after finishing the first phase of its development.

At that time, the complex consisted of a 541-room five-star hotel, a casino, a world-class entertainment facility, restaurants, a high-tech meeting space, an exclusive VIP area, a championship golf course, and a variety of beach-front recreational activities.

This is one of a limited number of large-scale casino projects authorized for foreign clientele in Vietnam.

In recent years, following the approval of pilot schemes for Vietnamese customers in certain large-scale casinos like those on Phu Quoc Island off southern Kien Giang Province and in Van Don District in northern Quang Ninh Province, HTP applied for a similar license to welcome Vietnamese visitors at the Grand Ho Tram Strip, but it has not yet been granted.

In terms of financial performance, the Grand Ho Tram Strip shares a common challenge with many others nationwide, accumulating more than $449 million in losses. 

Despite this, in recent years, the casino has fulfilled its tax obligations, paying approximately $149 million, along with project land use fees exceeding $3.87 million.

Given the current financial circumstances of the investor, the Ministry of Planning and Investment required that the People’s Committee of Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province should ensure that HTP fulfills the requirement of providing sufficient equity for the project implementation if the project’s construction time extension is approved.

This includes detailed plans to mobilize capital from credit institutions, ensuring the project’s overall feasibility.

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Bao Anh - Bao Ngoc / Tuoi Tre News


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