It’s official: Vietnam OKs casino gambling for locals

By AFP, VnExpress   January 20, 2017 | 06:23 pm PT
Citizens over 21 years old with a monthly income of at least $445 will be allowed to enter local casinos from mid-March.

Betters in gambling-mad Vietnam will soon be allowed to stake their fortune in some casinos across the country, the government said Friday, in a pilot scheme aimed at opening up the lucrative industry.

The government has long-banned locals from gambling in casinos, despite their popularity among foreigners and hot demand from Vietnamese.

The government said Friday it would allow citizens over 21 years old with a monthly income of at least 10 million dong ($445) to hedge bets in local casinos from mid-March under a three-year pilot program. Vietnam's average annual income was around $2,200 last year.

"After three years... the government will decide whether to continue Vietnamese people's access to casinos," a statement on the government website said.

International casino developers, for whom Asia has become a global gaming engine following the stagnation in the U.S., have been circling Vietnam for some time now.

With a population of nearly 92 million, analysts said that by lifting the gambling ban, Vietnam could reignite interest in investors who had previously pulled out of casino projects due to tough entry barriers.

A study by Augustine Ha Ton Vinh, an academic who has researched Vietnam’s gaming industry extensively, showed the country is hemorrhaging as much as $800 million a year in tax revenue from gamblers who cross the border to Cambodia. Vietnamese authorities have endorsed this study.

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