Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance has proposed extending its casino pilot program, which allows local residents to play in select domestic casinos, to 2024.
The pilot scheme was launched in 2019, selecting qualified resident and allowing them to gamble in casinos, and the Government will use the collected data to decide whether Vietnamese locals should be permitted to continue gambling.
Originally, the program was supposed to run for three years, ending in 2022, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government is seeking to extend it by three further years to gather a sufficient amount of data for analysis and have more time to evaluate the pilot.
Currently, there are two casinos involved in the pilot run. The Corona Resort on Phu Quoc Island opened its doors in 2019, coinciding with the launch of the pilot. The second casino is a yet-to-be-opened property in Van Don.
There was no confirmation whether the Government will expand the list of the casinos participating in the pilot; however, the inclusion of more venues is unlikely as the decision would have to go through politburo, considered to be an anti-gambling body.
Experts believe any change to the country’s gambling laws will likely take time. “The Government’s main concern would be not to expose the local population to potential social risks from gambling and so I do not think there will be a significant shift in government policy in the near term,” said an analyst from Dezan Shira & Associates.
“There are these pilot programs, but that gives us the view it’s something the Government is experimenting with. I think it’s highly unlikely to be opened up to domestic big spenders any time soon.”