A Vietnam casino yet to open on Phu Quoc island will be permitted to welcome citizens into the gaming venue once it does in early 2019.

Vietnam casino Asian gambling Corona

A Vietnam casino called Corona will be allowed to welcome citizens once it commences operations. (Image: Corona Resort/Casino.org)

Vietnam lawmakers passed legislation in March 2017 that called for a test program to the federal ban on Vietnamese entering land-based casinos located in the country.

The government recently announced that the forthcoming Corona Resort and Casino on Phu Quoc will be the first property to allow citizens entry. The $2 billion resort will feature 2,000 slot machines and more than 200 table games, 1,440 hotel rooms, convention center, numerous restaurants, and retail shopping.

Vingroup, a leading real estate developer that has close relationships with the Vietnamese government, is behind the Corona Resort.

Only Wealthy Welcome

The Corona casino will be the sole gaming venue that citizens can enter in all of Vietnam. But even if the government takes steps to expand the three-year pilot program to casinos in other parts of the country, only the wealthiest residents will be able to proceed to the gaming floor.

According to the International Monetary Fund, the average salary per adult in Vietnam last year totaled just $1,800. The resident casino program mandates that Vietnamese pay a $50 entry fee per visit, and purchase a $1,100 permit. Citizens must also prove they earn at least 10 million dong ($430) monthly during the application process.

While the vast majority of citizens won’t qualify, Vietnam is experiencing an economic boom that has resulted in a larger upper class. PricewaterhouseCoopers said last year that Vietnam might be the fastest-growing economy in the world.

It’s why major casino operators like Las Vegas Sands have expressed interest in potentially developing a casino resort in Vietnam. A Sands spokesperson said in 2016 that the company “has been interested in Vietnam for years.” Sands billionaire CEO Mr. Adelson has made multiple trips to the country.

Illegal Operation Busted

While the Vietnam government will soon relax its ban on citizens entering a casino, the country’s law enforcement recently took down an illicit online gambling network that involved federal officials.

The Nikkei Asian Review reports that a vast online enterprise won more than $384.4 million in a little more than two years operating internet casino games. Former Ministry of Public Security Lieutenant General Phan Van Vinh and former director of the Crime Police Department Nguyen Thanh Hoa were both found guilty of being involved in the rogue business and sentenced to prison.

Vietnam law enforcement agencies have been on the offensive in taking down illegal gambling syndicates. In September, police raided an operation that was facilitating online sportsbooks, with some taking wagers from customers located in the US.

Seven people were arrested, and authorities say the network took in over $28 million in bets in less than three months since it began in July.