Casino offers operational template
Vietnam has a handful of legal casinos, but people who live there are not allowed to gamble in them. As the government considers a more lenient policy, the Vietnamese continue to gamble—illegally at home, and legally abroad. Some 900,000 Vietnamese gambled in Cambodian casinos in 2014, for example, according to Cambodia’s Ministry of Tourism.
Now the Vietnamese government is working on a draft decree that may open up the casino business to locals, particularly at a new casino planned for Phu Quoc Island. In the interim, Philip Falcone of Harbinger Capital, a minority investor in the Grand Ho Tram Casino on the Ho Tram Strip, says the property would welcome the new clientele.
He told the Saigon Times Daily, “The economic impact of this activity is significant and that the social impacts are manageable in a regulated environment. Gambling exists illegally in Vietnam. People still gamble, whether we like or not. Therefore, we would better off to legalize it so that we can ultimately control it with a proper legal framework.”
He said the Grand Ho Tram, one of the first luxury casino resorts in the country, is an example of “a responsible gaming format.”
“The fact that we are operating with an experienced team is an opportunity for the government to utilize our facility as a model where certain strategies can be tested to make sure that the framework works,” said Falcone. He said the property adheres to “regulated international standards” and can help the government develop “internal regulations such as training programs for staff and managing problem gamers, etc.”
Ultimately, Falcone said, the country will benefit by allowing citizens to legally gamble at home. “The best way to control the social impacts is to offer a regulated and controlled environment in Vietnam. Clear regulations on gaming are critical for Vietnam over the long term.”
Ho Tram is ready for Vietnamese gamblers if the legislation is passed, he said.
“We are now welcoming many foreign tourists and we hope that in the near future, the Vietnamese can enjoy their time at the casino as well. Yes, we are 100 percent ready to welcome Vietnamese gamers.”