Las Vegas Sands Corp (LVSC) is one of the leading casino operators in the world and has iconic properties in Las Vegas, Macau and Singapore. While competitors such as MGM Resorts and Wynn Resorts continue to invest and develop casino resorts in the United States (US), LVSC has preferred to focus on the lucrative Asian market in the coming years.
LVSC recently announced that it was willing to invest up to $10 billion to develop an integrated resort in Japan, after the country recently lifted its gambling ban. Japan will initially issue only two casino licenses and LVSC wants to ensure that it is the recipient of one of those casino licenses. The company announced late last week that it was keeping a close watch on the Vietnamese market and reiterated its interest to develop an integrated resort in Vietnam.
Earlier this year, the Vietnamese government decided to lift the gambling ban it had imposed on locals and stated that it would try out a three year experiment allowing locals to gamble at two casino resorts in the country. If the experiment proves to be successful in terms of bringing in more revenue for the government and not increasing problem gambling and crime in the country, Vietnam could consider extending the three year pilot program and eventually allowing locals to gamble in more casinos.
The lifting of the gambling ban on locals is an encouraging sign of gaming operators who will now have a larger market in Vietnam. LVSC also wants to get in on the action and is interested in developing an integrated resort in either Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City which are the two most popular cities in Vietnam. The company is a specialist in developing Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions (MICE) resorts and has had success in Asia, developing the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore and the Parisian Macao in Macau – which opened in September 2016.
The President and CEO for Marina Bay Sands and Managing Director of Global Development George Tanasijevich reiterated that LVSC would be willing to develop a MICE project in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City as they were encouraged by the fact that the government had lifted the ban on locals gambling but at the same time wanted to cautious in their approach to Vietnam as this was only a temporary three year experiment. Tanasijevich stated that LVSC had demonstrated that their MICE projects were successful in creating thousands of part time construction jobs and full time casino jobs, encouraging tourism, boosting the economy and generating a significant number of revenue in the form of gaming taxes for the local government.
LVSC was forced to make a number of changes to its usual marketing strategy in Macau after Beijing announced an anti-corruption crackdown on VIP gambling. Macau administrators encouraged the six major gaming operators in Macau to concentrate on diversifying their portfolio and increasing their non-gaming activities. LVSC has adapted to these changes during the last 24 months and will use its experience to adopt a similar strategy should they decided to develop a MICE project in Vietnam.
Tanasijevich believes that a MICE project in Vietnam will be of great benefit to Vietnam as it will encourage other international investors to do business in Vietnam. LVSC will also collaborate with local companies to put together cultural programs that will draw tourists into its resorts and cause them to learn more about Vietnam’s rich cultural heritage. Tanasijevich also stressed the fact that LVSC would take care to ensure that it complies with all gambling regulators and ensure that problem gambling did not become a concern in the country.
LVSC has adopted a similar model in Singapore which has turned out to be rather successful and Tanasijevich stated that the company would look to roll out a similar model which was customized for the Vietnamese market. The government in Vietnam is eager to bring in more foreign investment and boost its casino industry but certain criteria make it difficult for investors to commit to a casino project. LVSC also highlighted these restrictions and stated that its decision to move ahead with a MICE project in Vietnam would depend on the minimum investment required by the government, new tax regulations and gaming requirements.

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