Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson was in Hanoi recently to discuss a possible investment in a resort casino in Vietnam with government officials.
Vietnam Investment Review reported the billionaire met with Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh.
It’s Adelson’s second trip to the country in the last two years. After the first, he said LVS desired to invest in two resorts with casinos in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City with a combined projected cost of US$6 billion. The massive project he had in mind on the latest visit—slated for a government-sponsored special economic development zone near Halong Bay in the north of the country—would include a hotel, restaurants, convention and meeting space, shopping, spas, an entertainment arena, cinemas and other tourist and leisure amenities.
He proposed the government create favorable conditions for foreign investors to do business in Vietnam to attract more tourists to the country, including relaxing a longstanding ban on casino gambling by Vietnamese citizens.
The reform, if enacted, would be in line with an official desire to promote economic development through foreign tourism, a policy that has been expanded recently to include the area surrounding Halong Bay, a popular holiday destination on the northeast coast about 130 kilometers from Hanoi. The government wants to attract at least US$4 billion in related investment into a special economic zone there, Vinh said, and appears to have come around to the view that liberalizing its 90 million-strong domestic gambling market is necessary to the success of that effort.
The potential has intrigued other global operators besides Sands. Genting has expressed interest, and in October, Vienna-based Casinos Austria International sent executives to visit the Halong Bay area.