The Ministry of Finance has completed a controversial draft decree that could open casinos to Vietnamese gamblers and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung will have the final say on it.
According to the draft being submitted to PM Dung for approval, casinos will be open to Vietnamese citizens aged 21 and up who will have to meet certain background and financial criteria that the government will define at a later date.
Vietnam's casinos are currently only open to foreign passport holders.
The draft decree proposed that the Prime Minister select which casinos will become open to local gamblers.
The final draft also proposed easing requirements for casino investors in Vietnam.
Accordingly, investors or managing partners will only be required to demonstrate at least five years experience, instead of ten years as suggested in a previous draft.
However, the finance ministry maintained that gaming companies need to invest at least US$4 billion and has the operation of a maximum of 200 tables and 2,000 machines.
The finance ministry will coordinate with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to stipulate regulations on casino advertising.
Casinos will have to issue regulations to ensure that all proceeds are dutifully reported to the finance ministry.
The draft decree proposed capping maximum fines for investment violations at VND200 million (US$9,400) combined with a 18 month licensing suspension for repeated violations.
The regulation's authors also proposed banning casinos from operating online gambling services.
In August 2013, the Communist Party's Politburo agreed to allow Vietnamese who met certain criteria to gamble at a casino slated for construction in the Van Don Economic Zone in the northern province of Quang Ninh Province, near the Chinese border.
In April, a majority of deputies at the parliament’s Standing Committee also agreed on the issue.
However, chairman of the Ethnic Affairs Committee Ksor Phuoc and chairman of Finance and Budget Committee Phung Quoc Hien said Vietnam should strongly regulate the practice.
“Thorough research is needed before Vietnamese can be allowed into casinos,” Hien said.
Nguyen Mai, former deputy minister of Planning and Investment, strongly opposed the plan, saying it would be “a disaster for the Vietnamese people.”
“We already have too many social evils. We should avoid this plan at all costs,” he said.