Hotel and casino operators are tapping growing wealth in Asia. U.S. gaming tycoon Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corp. is investing at least $10 billion building casinos in Singapore and Macau, which in 2006 overtook the Las Vegas Strip as the world's biggest gaming hub. Vietnam's economy grew 8.5 percent last year, the fastest pace since 1996.

``We're going to out-compete Nevada, Aymong said. ``Our project is the largest real-estate investment ever in Vietnam. It will give another lift to its already booming tourism industry.

The proposed project is attracting interest from investors, said Aymong, who owns 32 percent of Asian Coast. New York-based Harbinger Capital, run by Philip Falcone, is the second-biggest shareholder with a 25 percent stake, Aymong said.

Falcone from Harbinger Capital couldn't be reached for immediate comment at his office in New York.

Beach and Forest

The resort will be built on an undeveloped stretch of beach and forest in Xuyen Moc, Ba Ria-Vung Tau province near the South China Sea, about two hours by car east of Ho Chi Minh City.

The site for the complex measures 175 hectares (432 acres), said Le Kim Huong, director of the province's planning and investment department. She said Asian Coast Development was granted a casino licence in March.

The first phase of the project will include two hotels with 2,300 rooms, Aymong said. By 2015, Asian Coast plans to increase the number of rooms available to as much as 10,000 and add other facilities, he said.

Asian Coast will also invest in the building of highways, a ferry terminal and an airport, Aymong said.

Oak Tree Group, a U.S.-based investment company, has presented a plan to a Vietnamese provincial government to build a $5 billion resort in Danang, the Vietnam News Agency reported on April 9.

By Kelvin Wong - Bloomberg - May 23, 2008