A “soft opening” in October this year is intended for the first phase of a multibillion-U.S.-dollar casino resort complex called “Hoiana” on Vietnam’s central coast, GGRAsia has learned from Andrew Lo Kai Bong, an executive director of Suncity Group Holdings Ltd. The Hong Kong-listed firm is one of the scheme’s backers.
The investors hope that approximately two years after the venue’s launch they will be able to apply to open its casino to economically-qualified locals.
“We expect it [the first phase] to open in October, and by then basically 90 percent of the first-phase content will be launched – such as the golf course, and hotels. But that should be a soft opening,” Mr Lo told us.
“We’ve aimed a grand [full] opening of it before the Chinese New Year period in 2020,” he added, referring to the resort’s first phase.
First-phase facilities are to include an 18-hole golf course; the Hoiana Residence condominium-hotel space carrying 270 units; and three hotels providing an aggregate of 800 rooms.
Suncity Group Holdings is chaired by veteran junket investor Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, who also leads the privately-held Macau casino junket firm Suncity Group.
The multi-phase Hoiana scheme, located at Hoi An in Vietnam, is a venture by Hoi An South Development Ltd. Vietnamese asset manager VinaCapital Group, and a subsidiary of Hong Kong’s Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd, have also been linked to the scheme. The listed Suncity Group Holdings had completed in August 2018 an acquisition that gave it a 34-percent stake in the Hoiana scheme.
The Vietnamese government lifted a ban on locals gambling in casinos in March 2017, following a decree in January of that year envisaging a three-year trial project on such business. Under it, Vietnamese customers aged 21 or over and have a monthly income of at least VND10 million (US$430) were to be allowed to gain access to gaming floors in selected casinos in that nation, provided that they also paid an entry levy.
“It is still not the right moment for us to apply for it [permission to offer gambling to locals],” Mr Lo told us, adding the venue would “definitely” do so.
“But now [currently] only two licences were issued that allow locals,” he further stated. Once the three-year test run under the scheme was completed, Suncity Group believed “the market would be open for it,” said Mr Lo.
“By then, we’ll for sure go apply and we will definitely be fitting to the [local authority’s] requirement,” the Suncity executive additionally noted.
Only casino resorts with a total capital investment of at least US$2 billion – including gaming and non-gaming facilities – are eligible to welcome Vietnamese to gamble. The casino at Corona Resort and Casino, on Phu Quoc island in Vietnam, was opened last month. The property was reportedly one of the two first properties in Vietnam allowed by the government to offer gambling to economically-qualified locals. The other is expected to be located in Northern Vietnam at Van Don.
The Van Don project is reportedly being developed by Vietnam’s Sun Group. It is located in a remote area around 160 kilometres east of Hanoi.
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