Tag Archives: gambling

CASINO BUSINESS UNDER STRICT REGULATIONS

On 20 January 2017, the Government issued a long-awaiting casino business decree No. 03/2017/ND-CP (Casino Decree). Although the issuance of the Casino Decree after almost 10 years of waiting opens a promising market to casino industry, foreign investors have been very hesitant and in the waiting mode for further clarification documents from competent authorities. Finally after more than six months since the Casino Decree’s effective date, on 05 October 2017, the Ministry of Finance issues Circular No. 102/2007/TT-BTC (Casino Circular) guiding the Casino Decree. The Casino Circular helps complete the regulatory framework for casino business in Vietnam and put the young industry in momentum growth.

Local Vietnamese eligible for gambling

Local Vietnamese will be permitted to gamble at specific casinos approved by competent authority on a 3-year trial basis (i.e. – calculating from the first day opening of the authorized integrated resorts). According to the public media, only 02 casinos are open to Vietnamese individuals on a 3-year piloting scheme, which are located within complex resorts in Phu Quoc District, Kien Giang Province (South Vietnam) and Van Don District, Quang Ninh Province (North Vietnam). A small likelihood that Ho Tram Resort would join the list.

Local players are permitted to enter casinos if they essentially satisfy the following conditions: (i) 21 years old or above; (ii) monthly salary of VND10 million or more (equivalent to approximately US$440); (iii) paying entrance fee of VND1 million (US$44)/24 hours/ person or VND25 million (USD1,100)/ month/ person; and (iv) not being objected in writing by siblings, spouses and/or biological and adopted parents to play at casinos. However, these conditions, especially the monthly income requirement, are complicated to prove and were not previously dealt with in the Casino Decree. The Casino Circular then substantiates this requirement as below:

– Having documents (tax declarations/ confirmation by tax authorities) proving taxable income at level 3 or above pursuant to the Law on Personal Income Tax;

– Notarized house/ assets lease contract, where the total monthly rent is VND 10 million or above;

– Notarized bank savings book or bank statement of savings with a term of one year or more and having monthly interest from VND10 million or above;

– Other documents proving that the usual monthly income of players being VND 10 million or above; or

– In case a single document mentioned above is not sufficient to prove the VND10 million monthly income, players can submit several documents to prove such total monthly income.

Casinos under strict supervision of tax authorities

Casino-operating enterprises must arrange a place in the casino with necessary means and equipment for state authorities to perform the casino management and surveillance directly or via electronic equipment and camera system. Transactions under supervision are monetary transactions and/ or tokens related ones. These transactions must also be recorded ad reported to the tax authorities.

In addition, state authorities also supervise, either directly or via electronic and camera system, the inventorying and calculation of transactions performed at cashier area and/ or areas for counting and storing cash and tokens.

Foreign currency control in casino business

Casino-operating enterprises must exchange Vietnamese Dong or other currencies for tokens and vice versa for players.

The exchange rates for Vietnamese Dong or other currencies to tokens and vice versa must be based on the purchasing rates on the transaction date announced by the licensed bank where the casino-operating enterprise’s specialized foreign currency account is opened. In case the transaction date falls on days off or public holidays, the exchange rates must be based on the rates announced on the previous transaction date.

A casino-operating enterprise may accept bank cards of players to exchange for tokens when they play in the casino. The transaction must be in Vietnamese Dong.

In case the Vietnamese players win the prizes, they are only allowed to receive the prize in Vietnamese Dong (whether in cash or by bank transfer). This is not the case for foreign players where they can also receive the prize in foreign currency.

Conclusion

The issuance of the Casino Decree and the Casino Circular timely open Vietnam’s young casino industry to attract foreign investment and limit foreign currency loss to other neighbouring countries. According to recent statistics, Vietnam loses about USD800 million in tax revenue annually from gamblers who cross the border to Cambodia. This is even more critical as many countries in the region already allows casino business such as Macau, Singapore, Philippines, Korea and recently Japan. In such scenario, the Vietnam Government still has a lot to do in order to not only retain Vietnamese players in the market but also attract foreign players who are already familiar with other casinos in the region.

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If you have any question on the above, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com. Dr. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

Thank you very much!

 

 

 

VIETNAM – Gaming and casino laws – Where does Vietnam stand now?

On 20 January 2017, the Government issued a long-awaiting casino business Decree No. 03/2017/ND-CP. This Casino Decree for the first time allows local Vietnamese to gamble at specific casinos approved by competent authority on a 3-year trial basis. According to public media, only 02 casinos are open to Vietnamese individuals on a 3-year pilot scheme, which are located within complex resorts in Phu Quoc District, Kien Giang Province (South Vietnam) and Van Don District, Quang Ninh Province (North Vietnam). A small likelihood that Ho Tram Resort would join the list.

Four days later, the Government issued Decree No. 06/2017/ND-CP, which also for the first time legalizesinternational soccer betting in addition to horse racing betting and greyhound racing betting. This Betting Decree together with the Casino Decree have fully opened the door for gaming business in Vietnam.

The issuance of these Decrees is the Government’s attempt to retain tax revenue resulting from casino activities and limit foreign currency loss to other neighboring countries. According to a survey, Vietnam loses about USD800 million in tax revenue annually from gamblers who cross the border to Cambodia. The loss may continue rising if the restrictions applied to local Vietnamese are not fully lifted in the future, as Vietnam’s ultra-rich population has been growing faster than any economy in the world (320% from 2006 -2016. The highest growth is expected to continue during 2016- 2026 (about 170%).

These Decrees take effect in the midst of rising tourists, especially mid- and high- income ones to Vietnam. In July 2017, the United Nations World Tourism Organization ranks Vietnam as the 7th country with highest tourism development speed, only after Nepal and Korea in the region. The General Statistics of Vietnam also announced that in the first six months of 2017, international tourists to Vietnam increase by 30.2% compared with the same period last year. Tourists from Asia mainly account for those visiting Vietnam, followed by European visitors. We expect an increasing number of gamblers from Macau, Hong Kong and China will visit Phu Quoc this year.

Almost right after the issuance of the Casino Decree, many foreign investors have looked at Vietnam’s casino market such as Las Vegas Sands, Banyan Tree, Crown, Chow Tai Fook and Sun City. Although the Casino Decree sets out a 3-year trial period, investors should not wait until such period lapses. The casino Decree is the best opportunity ever for them until now and they have been waiting for this for too long already (about 8 years). It could be risky to invest as no one knows what might happen after these three years. However, as said, the opportunity is out there and investors should rush to meet the 3-year deadline. The Casino Decree sets out very strict conditions for foreign investors to be qualified for the Certificate of registration of investment in casino-included entertainment complex, including the requirement that the project contain at least hotels, service, tourism, commercial and entertaining areas and conference centers. The minimum investment capital must be USD2 billion. Thus, for new investors, it will take them around two years to apply for the license and build the complex. For existing investors in Vietnam, they will need at least one year to expand the project to meet requirements in the Casino Decree.

History shows that casino establishments are often located in difficult economic-socio areas or areas where national security must be balanced. Thus, investors should consider these factors in addition to the investment project’s level of contribution to local tourism development and budget. Currently, there are seven licensed casinos in Lao Cai, Mong Cai, Do Son, Bac Ninh, Ha Long and Da Nang. Four complex resorts are now at the development stage, namely Van Don (Quang Ninh), Nam Hoi An (Quang Nam), Phu Quoc (Kien Giang) and Ho Tram (Vung Tau).

Casino business, as defined by the Casino Decree, means prize winning games on (i) electronic gaming machine with prizes (i.e. – men vs. machine) and (ii) gaming table with prizes (i.e. – men vs. men).

There are 2 types of gaming machines:

  1. Gaming machines used for prize-winning business for foreigners. These are defined as gaming machines with prizing programs and special equipment for casino games. Prize-winning electronic gaming machine means a specialized electronic device to play prize-winning games installed therein. The playing process between players and machines is entirely automatic.

Prize-winning electronic games are lottery games played on prize-winning electronic game machines by players who pay money and may win money.

  1. Gaming machines which the players receive prize not to be converted into cash or kind any form, or to be converted in small things such as toys, candies, etc. and not being gaming machines for prize-winning business for foreigners.

If an investor wants to do business in gaming machines Type 1 (import, distribute or do prize-winning business), they must have a Certificate of satisfaction of conditions for business issued by the Ministry of Finance. One of the conditions to get such certificate is they must have a “tourism residential establishment which has been classified as five star or higher by the competent authority”. An investor then needs to cooperate with such hotels in Vietnam on a BCC contract basis.

If an investor wants to do business in gaming machines Type 2, there is no restriction on foreign ownership. However, the machines must satisfy certain technical requirements and if they intend to open a gaming shop, such shop must also comply with conditions in law.

Meanwhile, casino business is also treated as a conditional business sector the satisfaction of which is evidenced by a certificate of satisfaction of casino business conditions (“Casino Business License”). A casino must be located inside a larger resort complex or the like. Local Vietnamese will be permitted to gamble at specific casinos approved by competent authority on a 3-year trial basis (i.e. – calculating from the first day opening of the authorized integrated resorts) if they are 21 year-old or above and has monthly salary of VND10 million (about US$440) or more, just to name a few conditions. Number of gaming tables and gaming machines depends on investment size. That is, for each US$10 million lot that the investor actually releases, a package of one gaming table and ten gaming machines are permitted.

Growing mid to high income people will have more demand for high class integrated resorts. If the Vietnamese are allowed to gamble, development in integrated resorts with casino is a smart decision to make profit in Vietnam. In addition, the government will benefit from tax payments from these resorts and casino businesses.

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If you have any question on the above, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Oliver Massmann underomassmann@duanemorris.com. Dr. Oliver Massmann is General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

Thank you very much!

 

 

 

 

 

VIETNAM CASINO BUSINESS BREAKING NEWS  – THE LAW IS ISSUED – VIETNAMESE CAN GAMBLE – WHAT YOU MUST KNOW:

 

On 20 January 2017, the Government issued a long-awaiting casino business decree No. 03/2017/ND-CP (Casino Decree) allowing Vietnamese nationals to gamble in the country fort the first time in history on this scale.

Here are the key features of the Casino Decree:

  1. Casino business, as defined by Casino Decree, means prize winning games on (i) electronic gaming machine with prizes (i.e. – men vs. machine) and (ii) gaming table with prizes (i.e. – men vs. men).
  2. Casino business is treated as a conditional business sector. Investors must apply for a licence which is evidenced by a certificate of satisfaction of casino business conditions (the Casino Business License in short).
  3. A casino must be located inside a larger resort complex or the like. No separate casino sites are permitted. This requirement obliges the applying entities to go through 02 licensing processes, which are:

(i)         An investment registration certificate for resort complex (IRC); and

(ii)        A Casino Business License for the casino itself.

  1. A Casino Business License’s term is within 20 years from the date of issuing the relevant IRC or in-principle approval of the investment. Another 10 year extension is permitted but still within the lifespan of IRC.
  2. Conditions are various and somewhat ambiguous and discretionary including a US$2 billion of total investment capital. 50% of which must be contributed before issuance of the Casino Business License
  3. Local Vietnamese will be permitted to gamble at specific casinos approved by competent authority on a 3-year trial basis (i.e. – calculating from the first day opening of the authorized integrated resorts). According to the public media, only 02 casinos are open to Vietnamese individuals on a 3-year piloting scheme, which are located within complex resorts in Phu Quoc District, Kien Giang Province (South Vietnam) and Van Don District, Quang Ninh Province (North Vietnam). Probably the Ho Tram Resort will join the list.
  4. Local players are permitted to enter casinos if they essentially satisfy 05 following conditions:

(i)         21 years old or above;

(ii)        Monthly salary of VND10 million or more (equivalent to approximately US$440);

(iii)       Paying entrance fee of VND1 million (US$44)/24 hours/ person or VND25 million (USD1,100)/ month/ person;

(iv)      Not being objected in writing by siblings, spouses and/or biological and adopted parents to play at casinos;

  1. Vietnamese currency is the only currency used for conversion transactions at casinos for local players.
  2. For local players, entrance fee for a 24 hour participation is US$45 (or $1,100 for a monthly unlimited pass).
  3. Number of gaming tables and gaming machines depends on investment size. That is, for each US$10 million lot that the investor actually released, a package of 1 gaming table and 10 gaming machines are permitted.

If you have any question on the above, please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com . Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

Thank you very much!

 

 

 

Lawyer in Vietnam Oliver Massmann Casino Laws – Latest Update

The final draft of the casino decree (‘Casino Decree’) has been passed by the Ministry of Justice and Government’s Office. It is now on the table of the Politburo for their comments, which are as always, the most important. It is expected that the Casino Decree would be issued on 1 July 2016. Nevertheless, there is no absolute guarantee on this prospect. This is because in order for a decree to become effective, it must be publicized on Official Gazette first and waits for a 15-day period from the first publication on the Official Gazette.
For many reasons, the text of the Casino Decree has not been made public. The Ministry of Finance has been successful in keeping the draft Casino Decree under secrecy. Again, whether Vietnamese residents are permitted to enter casinos in Vietnam is a big question that may wait for decision of the highest level of Vietnam’s political system.
Recently, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) has proposed a draft decree that lists casino as a conditional business which is subject to license of the MPS with respect to social orders. A very interesting point is that the draft decree only prohibits Vietnamese from playing on gaming machines. It is important to note that no such prohibition is mentioned with respect to Vietnamese’s playing in casinos. This may give a hint that Vietnamese may enter casinos if they are ‘permitted’. This fact corresponds to provisions of the new Penal Code that makes it very clear that only ‘illegal’ gambling is punished.
So, though not 100% sure, more likely that Vietnamese may enter casinos and gamble but with specific conditions.
At present, pending the issuance of the Casino Decree, all projects on casino are put on hold. we will follow up and keep you updated.
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Please do contact the author Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com if you have any questions on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.
THANK YOU!

Lawyer in Vietnam Oliver Massmann Online Gaming and Gambling in Vietnam

Technically, “online gaming” [business] in Vietnam may cover: (i) “online game”, a game played over some form of computer network;[1] or (ii) “online gambling”, a term for gambling using the Internet.

In the latter case, Vietnamese law does not treat online gambling as a full-fledged, independent and separate branch of gambling industry.[2] Rather it deals with major branches of gambling activities which are (i) lottery; (ii) casino/prized electronic machines; (iii) horse and greyhound race and (iv) sports betting,[3] etc. and sets forth specific conditions and restrictions on the same. Except for online lottery, other forms of gambling using Internet-based have been so far strictly prohibited or at least not officially permitted.

It also bears noting that market access to such gambling branches varies by investment forms, legal entity of the investors and capacity thereof, etc. For example, while lottery business is solely reserved for State owned enterprises, foreign investment in casinos is permissible. By the same token, depending on characteristics of specific gambling business, the scope of activities can be either limited to a specific approved location in a major city of Vietnam (e.g. – dog/greyhound race or traditional lottery) or nationwide (online lottery).

As gambling is a sensitive activity which requires a high level of surveillance, a gambling investor must essentially follow a general principle of “doing exactly what your license states”. To make it clearer, if an investor is permitted to open a casino at a specific resort only, it will not have the natural right to offer casino products through the Internet. Similarly, besides 63 State-owned lottery enterprises in each province, a lottery corporation was established in 2013 (i.e. – Vietlott) to offer online lottery lotto games, digits games and fast drawing games nationwide. However, it can be broadly argued, though not absolutely guaranteed, that if an investor is licensed to carry out a specific [and conventional] “gambling” activities, it may have a good position to apply for the same business but operated on an Internet-based platform.[4]

Generally, an investment project in gambling must be first granted with an investment certificate issued by the people’s committee at provincial level. For such purposes, the investors must obtain in-principal of the Prime Minister on an ad-hoc basis. In fact, the Ministry of Finance (the “MOF”) is expected to play a crucial role in deciding whether a Project will be accepted. Subsequently, the project’s owner may have to obtain a special business license from the MOF upon its fulfilment of post-establishment conditions (i.e. – completion of construction works, installment of equipment and facilities, etc.).

In principle, gambling, other than lottery and betting at licensed sport center(s), is strictly prohibited in Vietnam and individuals involved in gambling activities may face criminal charge. Vietnamese law on gambling business is therefore still in its infantry stage though initial ideas date back to early 2000s. Gambling licenses have granted to selected investors mainly on a piloting scheme and with strict requirements (i.e. – not letting Vietnamese nationals in). Draft laws on sport betting, casinos, which serve as key guidance on gambling business, have been discussed from time to time but not yet been issued.

In late 2013, two major draft decrees on gambling activities (i.e. – betting[5] and casinos), content of which is not made public, were submitted by the Ministry of Finance, as the draftsperson, to the National Assembly of Vietnam for the latter opinions. It appears however that little progress has been since made due to conflicting opinions among the Government and divisions belonging to the National Assembly on these sensitive issues.[6]

To date, Vietnam has 01 national online lottery company (i.e. – Vietlott) and 63 [traditional] lottery companies operating at provincial level. 07 casino licenses have been granted to investors as a part of their resort complexes but only 6 of which have commenced their operations. A number of 5-star hotels in major cities of Vietnam are permitted to run prized electronic machines. The only house race ground which was open to public was closed in 2013. Another greyhound race ground is still active in Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province, Vietnam.

In light of the above, a foreign investor wishing to invest in this sector may consider different channels to access Vietnam online gaming market. For example, it may cooperate with licensed vendors in Vietnam as a supplier of equipment, machinery or materials or provider of technical assistance services relating to the same.[7] Or else, it may actively approach the MOF to initiate a proposed plan.

Please do not hesitate to contact Oliver Massmann under omassmann@duanemorris.com if you have any questions on the above. Oliver Massmann is the General Director of Duane Morris Vietnam LLC.

INTERESTED IN DOING BUSINESS IN VIETNAM? VISIT: www.vietnamlaws.xyz

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Breaking News – Casino Business Vietnam – Vietnamese Nationals will be allowed to gamble in Vietnam

According to Vietnamnet, an online news service in Vietnam, the Ministry of Finance (“MOF”) just finalized a new draft on casino business (“New Draft”). You can find the link here (http://vietnamnet.vn/vn/kinh-te/191861/du-21-tuoi–nguoi-viet-duoc-choi-casino-.html). It is not clear whether the Ministry of Finance has submitted the New Draft to the Government for consideration and approval and when this New Draft becomes effective. In addition, the MOF has not yet published the New Draft but we are trying to obtain this New Draft asap.We will keep you posted.

Continue reading Breaking News – Casino Business Vietnam – Vietnamese Nationals will be allowed to gamble in Vietnam