Many readers prepared to roll the dice
Last week, Viet Nam News asked its readers for their thoughts on the possibility of opening casinos in Viet Nam and for any recommendations or suggestions to the Government on this matter. Here are some replies.
A one-night KPop concert in Ha Noi on Thursday by famous Korean idol music bands and singers has stirred the daily routines of millions of Vietnamese teenagers.
They rushed for tickets when they went on sale – and waited for their idols at airports and hotels overnight.
The concert remains the hottest topic at schools and wherever kids gather.
Similar Kpop concerts have stirred the crowds in Japan, America and Europe.
Korean idol music bands and singers are having a great influence on Vietnamese teenagers.
Their performances are broadcast daily on television and radio channels and internet websites.
Vietnamese teenagers imitate their idols' fashion, choice of foods and drinks. Some even learn Korean language and culture. Their idol's lives become their private concern.
However, Vietnamese adults have started to become worried about these strong influences in their children's behaviour.
They say it sometimes goes against the country's traditional and cultural values. This is why some adults want to limit the influence of such pop stars.
Does such a "mania" for music idols occur among your country's teenagers? Tell us about this.
Should adults be worried when their young people are strongly influenced by their idols, especially foreign ones? What should they do to encourage young people to enjoy the new trends but still respect their traditional values?
How does your country manage negative influences of alien cultures on its youth?
What do you think about the wave of Korean pop culture sweeping many countries?
Emails should be sent to: email@example.com – or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 11 Tran Hung Dao Street, Ha Noi. Replies to next week's questions must be received by Thursday morning, March 22.
Piet Bels, Belgian, HCM City
I couldn't believe my eyes when I read that officials were considering setting up gambling projects and casinos.
Luck in life or death may indeed have an element of gambling as every one of us is limited by our genes.
But living a life with work, family, ethics and values has really nothing to do with casinos and gambling. I am aware that gambling has a strong presence in Asia, but in my opinion it destroys the spiritual rule that life is ours only when we ‘invest' in positive mental attitudes, daily discipline and consistency in work.
This is not only applicable to the individual life of every human but also to the society and the structure of economics as a whole and in relation in particular both in the immediate future and in the long term.
Gambling is one of the most unethical ways of ‘earning' a living. It is short-sighted, narrow minded and short-lived. It destroys families and minds. It is statistically proven to be linked with crime and violence.
Lawry Bee Tin Yeo, Singaporean, HCM City
Viet Nam is the country in ASEAN that has the most entertainment destinations and places for tourists and visitors alike. Your land, sea and mountains provide natural scenic and beautiful views. From the north to the south you have different interesting cultures and displays.
You do not need casino complexes to attract tourists. Viet Nam already has many mini casinos in hotels in the cities to provide entertainment. Tourists do not come to your country to gamble. Only gamblers will come all the way to Viet Nam to seek their fortune so to speak. Plus, a majority of the gamblers will lose and get into financial problems when they are out of control. Casinos will create all forms of social problems for the country.
Once the process begins, it is hard to go back and almost impossible to prevent the locals from getting involved. Even with a levy imposed for Vietnamese, they will still pay and get in. One other way to discourage locals from entering casinos to mandate the currency used be US dollars. On the other hand, you need the visitors, locals and foreigners to form the crowd.
To provide casinos is one thing and to maintain them according to international standards is another. With such a large population, the majority of visitors will be locals. The investment in casinos is huge, amounting to US$5-6 billions, and investors have to earn at least $8-10 million a month. Just imagine how and where this money is going to come from.
On the positive side, these casinos will bring income to the country and will also bring in foreign visitors. They will create a lot more jobs for the locals and the business market will be more vibrant. Lifestyle in the cities will be more exciting, especially for those working in the entertainment arena.
Rie Watanabe, Japanese, Ha Noi
Casinos earn lots of money and can contribute to the national budget.
However, we should think carefully about the mass opening of casinos in Viet Nam. Let's take a look at Japan. Legal gambling in Japan is still limited to horse, motorboat, bicycle, and motorbike racing. A number of other activities, such as the lottery, pachinko, and mahjong, which in reality are forms of gambling, are classified as "amusements" and are legal. Pachinko, for example, appears everywhere in Tokyo. Just look around the train stations and busy corners of the city, and you can find a pachinko. Many people spend lots of time there. Some claim that such amusement has limited people's physical and mental activities.
Back to Viet Nam. With large investments, the casinos will be opened for Vietnamese citizens, legally or illegally, to draw capital back. Casinos and other gambling forums are places where money laundering happens easily and quickly so we should really be careful with the idea.
Patrick Moran, British, HCM City
A classic conflict of interest. Principle number one of marketing: "Find out what the customers want." Suppose there are a large number of sex tourists or, worse still, paedophiles? There is no doubt about the popularity of casinos. Look at Las Vegas and Macau, which has not escaped the notice of Singapore. The conflict is between selling what people want and selling what they need. However, there is also a culture gap. My daughter has been a croupier in three different countries and I have visited many casinos. In Europe and America there is a very small number of addictive gamblers who wreck their own lives and the lives of their families.
Most people are rare visitors with an atmosphere of light-hearted entertainment. Asians in casinos are nearly all serious gamblers. Hence they have taken to the worst elements of casino capitalism like ducks to water.
Your education fails to teach that we are individually and collectively responsible for our own fates. Casino operators know arithmetic and they know that the wheel has no memory. The professionals now have computer programmes which tell them minute by minute if they have too many bets on one horse so that they can "lay it off" with another bookmaker.
To summarise! Casinos are an extremely good idea for Viet Nam as long as you can devise a way of severely limiting the losses of the Vietnamese!
Natalie Tolkacheva, Russian, HCM City
I think this is one of the reasons for the low number of foreign tourists coming to Viet Nam. I do believe casinos can bring a huge flow of foreign currencies. Take Macau, with a total area of 30sq.km and a population of around 500,000 but they can earn billions of US dollars from this entertainment.
I see many advantages for the tourism sector if Viet Nam has big casinos. Investors will surely advertise the entertainment, which will contribute to the promotion of Viet Nam. This new kind of entertainment will also help diversify international tourists coming to Viet Nam. Casinos can also create employment opportunities.
If the Government sees difficulties in management, they can think about casino projects offshore so that casinos can be built on Viet Nam's islands and archipelagos while they will not affect the country's economic, educational and cultural activities. I know that many rich men in Viet Nam still go abroad to spend their money in casinos. Why should Viet Nam let such money flow abroad? — VNS