More Asian countries open up to gambling

Vietnam and gamblingVietnam may become the latest Asian country to ease its laws banning gambling. Several Asian countries have relaxed their laws having seen the benefits that regulating and legalising gambling brought in particular to Macau after it opened up its gaming industry.Macau allowed outside casino operators to develop casino resorts especially on the Cotai Strip Macau. Leading Las Vegas casino developers and operators such as Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands group and Steve Wynn’s Wynn group have developed large casino hotel and entertainment complexes as has Stanley Ho whose company held the monopoly on gambling for decades before the laws changed to open up the market to foreign operators. Sheldon Adelson it is claimed is said to be interested in investing in Vietnam. The Vietnamese government will be aware of the income generated by taxes and tourism as a result of regulating the gaming industry. (See article: New Casino Developments in Macau)Due to its geographic position bordered by Cambodia, Laos and also China Vietnam is in a position to attract tourists and gamblers from neighbouring countries. The Vietnamese government is believed to be drafting legislation to allow casino operators to set up in Vietnam but following strict regulations to prevent any criminal activity linked to gambling and also to protect gamblers and vulnerable people.

Up to now all gambling has been illegal in Vietnam with the exception of the state run lottery. Vietnamese nationals are not allowed to gamble in the few hotels where casino gambling is on offer to holders of foreign passports.

In a bid to open up its casino gambling industry Vietnamese officials have been looking to the models of gambling now in place in Singapore and Malaysia which were among the first countries in Asia to follow Macau to legalise and regulate casino gambling. Recently the Vietnamese Prime Minister visited Singapore to discuss their gambling industry as a possible model for Vietnam.

Just as Vietnam is now seeking to do, Singapore wanted to have economic and tourism success like Macau. It granted licences to only two operators to build casino resorts on the island of Singapore in 2006, these were the Las Vegas Sands group and Genting. The government made a huge investment in order to attract tourists but at the same time was wary of a possible problem linked to gambling in its own population. This is also a concern for the Vietnamese government. The Singapore authorities got around this problem by charging people from Singapore very high entry charges to the casinos.

It is not yet known which model the Vietnamese government will follow but it is on the way to joining Macau, Singapore and Malaysia as a future casino gambling tourism destination.

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