Finance Ministry seeks to extend allowing Vietnamese people to gamble at Phú Quốc casino

October 24, 2022 - 08:51
The casino has paid VNĐ1.73 trillion ($71.74 million) in taxes to the state coffers over the last three years.
Photo for illustration. — Photo

HÀ NỘI — As a three-year pilot programme allowing Vietnamese people to gamble at a casino on Phú Quốc Island (Kiên Giang Province) is set to finish by the end of this year, the Ministry of Finance has asked for a two-year extension due to the COVID-19 pandemic badly affecting the casino business over the last two years.

Earlier, the Kiên Giang People’s Committee had also asked for the extension.

Deputy Minister of Finance Nguyễn Đức Chi told Tuổi Trẻ (Youth) newspaper that the ministry asked for approval from the Politburo to extend the programme until the end of 2024.

“The COVID-19 pandemic over the last two years has had a great impact on Việt Nam’s production, hospitality and tourism, particularly the casino business,” Chi said, adding that during social distancing, few foreigners could enter Việt Nam while Vietnamese people were also restricted from going out except for urgent situations.

“To properly evaluate the effectiveness of the pilot programme, it’s necessary to extend the programme two more years,” Chi said.

According to the ministry, under the pilot programme, the casino on Phú Quốc served 240,560 customers from 2019 to 2021, of which Vietnamese accounted for 65 per cent.

In 2019 and 2020, revenue from casino business grew well, about 9.5 per cent per year. From 2021, due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, revenue dropped sharply. Casino business results in 2021 were a loss of VNĐ1.14 trillion.

The Phú Quốc casino has helped create 2,000 jobs and it has paid VNĐ1.73 trillion (US$71.7 million) in taxes to state coffers.

Local clients have spent VNĐ141 billion ($5.85 million) on entrance tickets.

There are nine casino projects in Việt Nam with six small ones in Hải Phòng, Quảng Ninh, Lào Cai and Đà Nẵng and three major casinos in Hội An of Quảng Nam Province, Hồ Tràm of Bà Rịa - Vũng Tàu Province and Phú Quốc of Kiên Giang Province.

Phú Quốc casino is one of only two casinos open to Vietnamese in a trial programme in the country.

The other, located in Vân Đồn District of northern Quảng Ninh Province, has not been approved for investment.

According to the Ministry of Finance, casino development associated with large-scale general service, tourism, commerce and entertainment zones is appropriate. This includes the pilot programme for Vietnamese people to play in casino.

With a cautious view, this pilot programme does not affect security, social order and safety, meets the entertainment needs of the people, contributes to increasing state budget revenue, and promotes local socio-economic development. The casino business also creates jobs for local workers.

For many years, Vietnamese citizens were banned from entering casinos.

Prof. Hà Tôn Vinh, who advised and proposed allowing Vietnamese people play in casino in the country, said that the proposal to extend the pilot period for two more years at Phú Quốc casino was suitable.

The pilot programme brought many benefits, including revenue and data for management to know about casino service users, he said.

“Thanks to the pilot programme, the Government will have suitable solutions to strictly manage casino business activities, without disrupting social order. But at the same time, the policy also needs to better meet the needs of investors in large-scale casino complexes,” he said.

"To meet the needs of domestic players, besides Phú Quốc casino, there are still many large-scale casinos across the country that can be piloted for Vietnamese people to play, such as Hồ Tràm casino or Nam Hội An casino,” he said, adding that such casino investors also want to receive Vietnamese players.

Võ Chí Thành, director of the Institute for Brand Development and Competition, said that there have been many studies evaluating casinos.

“There is an argument that if we do not allow Vietnamese people to play, they will take money abroad to play and there are many consequences,” he said.

"We can learn from the management experience of countries like Singapore to limit the risks of gambling games,” he said. — VNS