On 16 January 2017, Decree 03/2017/ND-CP (“Decree 03”) was introduced to provide a legal framework for casino businesses in Vietnam. Decree 03, which came into effect on 15 March 2017, permits Vietnamese nationals to play at casinos for the first time. Decree 03 is expected to boost foreign investors’ interest in the country’s casino and gaming industries.
Key features of Decree 03
- A casino business may only be operated as an ancillary business under a combined services, tourism and entertainment zone. A company intending to operate a casino must apply for the following key licenses: (a) an investment policy decision on casino business activities issued by the Prime Minister (“IPD”); (b) an investment registration certificate for casino business activities (“IRC”) (required for projects of foreign investors and of some other stipulated investors); and (c) a certificate of satisfaction of conditions that apply to casino business activities issued by the Ministry of Finance (“Casino Business Certificate“).
- The issuance of an IPD or IRC is conditional upon the project having a minimum investment capital of USD2 billion; a hotel; a services, tourism and commercial zone; an entertainment zone; and a conference centre.
- After the issuance of an IPD (and IRC), an enterprise must, inter alia, disburse at least 50% of its total registered investment capital to be issued with a Casino Business Certificate.
- The term of a Casino Business Certificate must not exceed 20 years from the effective date of the relevant IRC or IPD. This term may be extended for a period of up to 10 years. A Casino Business Certificate may be withdrawn in circumstances where, for example, business does not commence within 12 months of the Casino Business Certificate’s issuance, there is failure to meet conditions required for its issuance, or the relevant IPD or IRC is withdrawn.
- The number of gaming machines and gaming tables licensed under a Casino Business Certificate is determined based on the total amount of actual disbursed investment capital by a ratio of a maximum 1 gaming table and 10 gaming machines licensed for every USD10 million actually disbursed.
- Besides foreigners and Vietnamese nationals residing overseas, Vietnamese nationals residing within the State may now also play at casinos subject to conditions such as meeting the minimum 21-year age requirement, having a monthly salary of at least VND10 million, and paying an entrance fee of VND1 million (per 24 hours) or VND25 million (per month). However, Vietnamese nationals are only allowed to play at casinos on a 3-year trial basis.
- Foreigners and Vietnamese nationals residing overseas are entitled to receive their prize money and carry or remit it offshore in foreign currencies. A casino enterprise is only permitted to receive or pay in foreign currencies after it has been licensed by the State Bank of Vietnam.
- Depending on the type of breach committed, a casino enterprise may be deprived of the right to use its Casino Business Certificate for a period of 3 to 12 months. Casino Business Certificate may even be withdrawn in more serious cases.
If you have any questions or require any additional information, you may contact Phuc Nguyen, Trang Hoang or the ZICO Law partner you usually deal with.
 Prior to the effective date of Decree 03, there have been some enterprises issued with Investment Registration Certificates which include casino business activities. For the ease of reference, we shall discuss about provisions applicable to these enterprises in another Newsletter.
This alert is for general information only and is not a substitute for legal advice.