Vietnam Releases Guidelines Outlining How Their New Casinos Will Be Regulated

Vietnam has this week published a document outlining how it intends to regulate its upcoming casino industry. These guidelines show that the government plans to keep a tight control over legalised gambling, and do everything in its power to ensure tax collection is above board.

The country recently decided to let locals play in casinos, under certain conditions and as part of a three-year trial. Participants of the trial will have to provide documentation proving an annual income over VND10m (approximately $440 USD), and it has been reported that the casinos will also have an entrance fee.

Two casinos have been selected to be part of the trial, however neither of them has opened yet, with the first one set to open its doors in 2018. One is planned for the Van Don economic zone in Quang Ninh province near the Chinese border and the other for the island of Phu Quoc off the coast of Cambodia. Whilst Phu Quoc is relatively unknown and remote, Quang Ninh province is near major city Hanoi, and its capital, Ha Long, is one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.

The decision to allow the three-year trial took place in December 2016. Since then, the government has been progressively publishing additional details of the scheme. The policies around the trial came into effect on the 1st of December 2017, despite the casinos not being built yet. That date also marked the beginning of a five-year trial on international sports betting and racing.

The most recent development is the document released by the Ministry of Finance titled ‘A Circular Guiding Management and Supervision of the Collection of Taxes on Casino Business Activity’. It was published in late December but has only now been released to the public. The document outlines the precautions and measures that casinos and their staff will have to adhere to in order to prevent tax fraud.

Casinos will only be allowed to use regular currency, both for buy-ins and payouts. All financial transactions will be recorded and tracked using a specialised software, which will summarise and report everything to the government. Cash will be sealed in made-for-purpose containers when being moved and special measures will be put in place to ensure staff do not tamper with it.

These measures demonstrate that the Vietnamese government has been carefully considering its relaxing of gambling law. It is a risky move: the government is betting on a local gambling industry and its tax revenues to help ease high levels of debt. Both Vietnamese business owners and international casino operators seem excited at the prospect of these changes, and there have been several high-profile announcements of new casino resorts.

Vietnam’s economy has been consistently growing in the past decades, and its population of 95 million promises a large market for local gambling. However, whilst the country is richer than other Southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia, Laos, and Philippines, it lags behind more prosperous neighbours such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, the latter of which has a booming casino market.