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Finance ministry wants to ease casino investment conditions

By Nguyen Ha   August 31, 2019 | 05:53 pm PT
Finance ministry wants to ease casino investment conditions
Investors must commit a minimum of $2 billion to build an integrated resort with casino services in Vietnam. Photo by Shutterstock/Fresnel.
The Ministry of Finance is proposing easier minimum capital requirements for casino investors, aiming to boost investment in special administrative-economic zones.

Under current regulations, investors must commit a minimum of $2 billion to build an integrated resort complex with casino services, and must make a 50 percent disbursement, or $1 billion, before an investment registration certificate is granted.

The ministry (MoF) has just proposed the Prime Minister include capital invested in other projects in special administrative-economic zones (SAEZs), or infrastructure projects connected to the zones, when calculating the minimum capital an investor must disburse before receiving the certificate for such projects.

The new proposal, according to MoF, will help resolve difficulties for investors, and attract investment into casino and infrastructure projects connected to SAEZs, especially Van Don, a locality deemed to have underdeveloped infrastructure. 

Van Don, a rural district in the northern province of Quang Ninh, is one of three areas identified for SAEZs with special laws to attract investment. Bac Van Phong in the central coastal province of Khanh Hoa, and Phu Quoc in the southern province of Kien Giang are two other localities. The National Assembly's appraising and approving a law on SAEZs have been delayed due to its controversy.

Currently, one casino is being built in Van Don by Sun Group, one of Vietnam's biggest real estate developers.

However, the MoF proposal has been objected to by several ministries. The Ministry of Planning and Investment said easing regulations would not be appropriate at this point of time, but did not elaborate.

The Ministry of Defence also objected, saying easing conditions, if aimed to support the casino project in Van Don, would make it unfair for businesses that have already received investment licenses for casinos.

Vietnam, which treats gambling as a "social evil", has hitherto prohibited locals from gambling in the seven casinos in the country. Only foreign passport holders can enter them.

However, last year the government approved a three-year trial project allowing Vietnamese to enter one casino in Phu Quoc Island on a pilot basis if they can meet certain conditions.

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