There are currently around seven licensed casinos in the country, all of whom bet on foreigners alone for growth. One of them is the Crown International Games Club in the coastal city of Danang, a hotbed for wealthy Chinese. Thanks to Chinese President Xi Jinping's crackdown on conspicuous spending and lavish lifestyles, VIP gamblers from the mainland are turning their backs on neighboring Macau in search of other shores.
The finance ministry also made no change to the current laws that weigh on foreign investors looking to run a casino in Vietnam.
A minimum $4 billion capital requirement is required, which Govertsen believed had been cut in half in previous iterations of the draft decree.
"No casino orientated group will invest that sort of sum where locals are not allowed to play," said McCamley.
Other conditions include a 10 percent value added tax, a 35 percent gross gaming revenue tax and a 20 percent corporate income tax.
"All of the above are positive for neighboring markets like Cambodia and Laos, which have more investment-friendly parameters," Govertsen noted. Still, he was hopeful that the regulations could loosen up in the future.
"We are taking this news with a grain of salt as not only is the draft decree up for further revisions, but that it could represent a trial balloon in order to get further input from the local community, or perhaps extract more concessions from developers."
McCamley meanwhile noted that the government's new draft decree was not final. "I was told by my Vietnam connections, that the law has not yet been changed, the draft denying locals access was submitted to the PM Office but no decision has yet been made."
However, CIMB's Kokalari was slightly more pessimistic.
He anticipates the taxation and investment environment to improve going forward, but warned that locals are unlikely to ever get free reign inside casinos.
"We have warned investors for years that their expectations about the likely ability of locals to gamble in Vietnam were unrealistic. The new government is even more conservative than the previous administration."
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