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Singapore’s Success With Casinos Influencing Vietnam

7 March 2012 by Devon Chappell

With the recent birth of Singapore’s ultra successful casino industry, and so many neighboring countries looking to follow suit, Asia is quickly becoming the new hot spot in casino development.  As evidence of this, both Japan and the Philippines are currently looking into developing vital gambling industries of their own.  But it seems that Vietnam may be the first to actually take a step towards becoming the next big thing in Asian gambling.

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, Vietnam’s Finance Ministry has indicated recently that they will be legalizing sports betting – an understandable opening move in what some feel will be the country’s ultimate shift towards a completely new policy on gambling.

At the moment, betting on European soccer matches is an extremely popular past time in Vietnam.  Of course, it is currently illegal to do so, and as a result, all bets are taken by underground gambling operations.

A move towards legalization would allow the government to better control the social impact that sports betting actually has on the country’s population.  One can easily assume that strict regulations will be put in place, though it is unclear if the Vietnamese government actually plans on running the sports betting market once it is legalized.  Regardless, there will be a number of private companies, both local and foreign, eager to get in on the action.

Though legalizing sports betting is definitely a move in the right direction, it must be followed by further policy shifts if Vietnam wishes to benefit from gambling to the same extent that Singapore has.  Actually, Vietnam already has a few casinos, but they are not accessible to the Vietnamese people.  The government only permits individuals with foreign passports to enter them.  As a result, a common practice for Vietnamese citizens seeking to enjoy the casino experience is to cross into near-by Cambodia for gambling holidays.  But since the intention of the law that permits only foreigners to enter Vietnamese casinos is to protect the country’s people from what the communist government sees to be the evils of gambling, these trips to Cambodian casinos seem to defeat the purpose.

Of course, if the legalization of sports betting is deemed a success, one might expect a new policy on casinos will follow.  Due to Singapore’s ability to develop a thriving casino industry without seeing an increase in crime, as many feared would happen, proponents of such a move in Vietnam have a strong hand to play when arguing their point.

With a massive population of its own and tourism on the rise, Vietnam would make an ideal landing spot for any U.S. casino developer looking to expand in Asia.  If the government opened its doors to foreign operators and changed its gambling laws regarding the Vietnamese people, a multi-billion dollar industry would most likely follow.

As reported by James Hookway and Vu Trong Khanh of The Wall Street Journal, by the year 2015, Asia will account for just over 40% of the world’s casino market according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.  This would be an increase of over 10% from five years earlier and could be followed by even greater growth as the region becomes more welcoming to casino gambling on whole.

As Asia does become more of a dominant force in casino gambling, it will be interesting to follow what effect that has on the Las Vegas casino industry.  For so many years, sin city has been the beneficiary of Asian countries’ tight fisted approach towards gambling.  As more of them now develop casino industries of their own, Vegas casinos will have to find new ways to attract gamblers from that region of the world.

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