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Will Vietnam be the next big Asian gaming market? Innovate Gaming asks the question and brings the answer
At the heart of Southeast Asia, bordering gambling-hungry China to the North and ripening Cambodia and Laos markets to the South, Vietnam edges closer towards establishing a lucrative casino industry. As Asia’s 13th most-populated country becomes a key destination for business and travel, the Vietnamese government clears the path for casino gaming.
Poised to benefit from Chinese high-rollers and global operators, Vietnam’s ruling Communist party has toyed with a casino market for many years. A handful of casinos deemed “entertainment centers” already exist in the country with limited facilities and only cater to foreigners. Select hotels are also licensed to operate slots and electronic betting games.
But the industry is set to be transformed by Canadian developer Asian Coast Development, who is building two large casino resorts nearby the Metropolitan area of Ho Chí Minh City. Located in southern Vietnam, Ho Chí Minh City is the largest region in Vietnam and populated by more than 9 million people. The city has good transportation links with two airports, a major railway terminal and port.
The Ministry of Construction of Vietnam certified Asian Coast Development to construct five Las Vegas-style integrated resorts and two entertainment centres in the city. The company has so far committed us$4.2 billion into the project and is set to open the first facility in 2013, which will be managed and operated by MGM Hospitality, a subsidiary of MGM Resorts International.
MGM Grand Ho Tram will be a five-star integrated resort located approximately 125km south-east of Ho Chí Minh City. The facility will launch with 500 slots, 90 live tables, a 541-room hotel and provide first-class amenities typically found in rival Macau and Singapore properties. Phase 2 includes a further 549 hotel rooms and 14 VIP villas, completing development of the first resort.
Las Vegas-based Pinnacle Entertainment acquired a 26 percent ownership in Asian Coast Development for us$95 million in August 2011 and entered a management agreement to operate the second resort. “We are excited about the growing list of world class operators and development partners that have joined the Ho Tram project,” commented Philip Falcone, CEO of Harbinger Capital, a majority investor in Asian Coast Development.
Genting Group has obtained an additional license to construct a casino resort in the Chu Lai Open Economic Zone. The Malaysian-based company, who operates gaming facilities in Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, has partnered with Vietnamese asset management group VinaCapital to develop a us$4 billion integrated resort.
LV Sands is also eager to start construction of two proposed resorts in Vietnam, one in Ho Chí Minh City and another in the more conservative northern region of Hanoi. The company has outlined plans to pump us$6 billion into the two gaming complexes and has designed concepts for the Ho Chí Minh City project, which closely follows its structural masterpiece in Singapore.
Like China, the Vietnamese government does not allow its citizens to gamble within the country. But analysts suggest a legislative amendment could be put in front of Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung as the industry unfolds. Vietnam’s Minister of Finance recently led a delegation of officials to Singapore to meet members of the gaming board and learn about the operation.
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