In November 2015, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung gave his approval in principle of a plan to install slot machine areas in international airports that would only be accessible by holders of international passports. The plan was supported by the Airports Corporation of Vietnam as a new revenue stream.

But Yogonet reported this week that current PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc had reached agreement with the Ministry of Finance to put the airport slots plan on hold until the government can gauge the results of its three-year trial of allowing local residents to gamble at two in-development Vietnamese integrated resorts.

Longtime Vietnam market watcher Augustine Ha Ton Vinh said Phuc had made the slots decision on December 30, one week after Phuc confirmed that the three-year locals trial would proceed at the Sun Group’s casino in Quang Ninh province’s Van Don special economic zone, and the Vingroup resort being built on Phu Quoc island.

Vietnam’s casino market has been bracing for significant revision for years now, and international operators have been content to sit on the sidelines until the government’s plans are finalized. Changes to Vietnam’s sports betting rules are also imminent, and the country’s lottery market is struggling to adapt to the arrival of a Western-style multi-ball lottery game.

In the meantime, Vietnamese locals must either travel to dodgy casinos across the Cambodian border or patronize illegal gambling dens at home, which can be equally dangerous. Look no further than the gambler who died following a police raid on a gambling den in Binh Dinh province on Monday.

Tuoi Tre News reported that 29-year-old Pham Dinh Toan died after six police raided the gambling den, at which around 30 men had gathered. Toan’s family members have accused the police of beating their relative until he lost consciousness. Toan later died on the way to the hospital.

Toan’s family, some of whom attacked the officers at the scene after learning of their relative’s death, has demanded the police investigate the cause of his demise. Police have responded by saying that they will file charges against those who injured two of their officers.

By Steven Stradbrooke - - January 5, 2017