Border casinos in countries neighbouring Vietnam are to be the “hardest hit” by the Vietnamese government’s decision to allow locals to gamble at selected domestic casinos. That is according to brokerage Union Gaming Securities Asia Ltd.
“We do expect the border casinos in cities like Bavet [in] Cambodia to bear the brunt of the downside, as the border casinos… have historically captured the lion’s share of Vietnamese customers,” Union Gaming analyst Grant Govertsen wrote in a Sunday note.
He added: “We would expect many to struggle to survive over the duration of the three-year Vietnam locals pilot programme.”
The Vietnamese government published on Friday a decree that paves the way for selected domestic casinos to accept bets from Vietnamese gamblers, for a trial three-year period.
The terms of the 50-page decree – available in Vietnamese on the government’s website – come into effect on March 15. The measure will allow citizens over 21 years old and with a monthly income of at least VND10 million (US$443) to enter local casinos and gamble, news agency AFP reported.
Following a meeting in December between officials of the northern province of Quang Ninh and Vietnam’s Prime Minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, it had been reported in the country’s media that a three-year trial period would be run regarding locals gambling. Two casino resorts were mentioned at the time for the pilot scheme – one in the Van Don Special Economic Zone in Quang Ninh, and the other on the southern resort island of Phu Quoc. Both casinos are said to be under construction, with no scheduled opening date for either having been reported so far.
In his Sunday memo, Mr Govertsen said: “Neither of these locations are readily accessible by persons living in major metros [urban centres] of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.”
He added: “However, we do believe that the language of the decree could also allow [The Grand] Ho Tram (around two hours from Ho Chi Minh City) to apply to be part of the locals pilot.”
Management at The Grand Ho Tram – an up and running gaming resort on the country’s southern coast – had told GGRAsia in an October 2014 interview that the property hoped to be part of a pilot programme for locals to gamble.
News agency Bloomberg reported on Saturday there was no indication from the Vietnamese government on when local gaming licences would be issued.
Mr Govertsen said that the partial end to the ban on local casino gambling in Vietnam was unlikely to have a material impact on NagaWorld in neighbouring Cambodia. “We estimate NagaWorld’s current exposure to Vietnam, as measured by gross gaming revenue, is less than 5 percent on mass market and slots, and an even lower percentage of VIP.”
NagaWorld is the only casino resort in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. The property is operated by Hong Kong-listed casino NagaCorp Ltd.
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