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The government of Vietnam is mulling the legalization of several new forms of gambling to bolster the growth of the industry and attract bigger bets and casino bonuses to the tables at the nascent casinos there. The ministries of finance, and planning and investment are “drafting legal documents” to submit to the prime minister for his consideration, under which special regulations will be issued to ensure the proper operation of gambling service providers, prevent potential fraud, and protect the interests of bettors.

Just five years ago, all forms of gambling, except the state-run lottery service, were illegal in Vietnam. Since then, however, the government has allowed some four- or five-star hotels in the country to establish electronic centers to offer gambling games to foreign passport holders.

Revenues of the state-run lottery service account for 2.4% of Vietnam’s gross domestic product, according to statistics from the Finance Ministry.

The service annually grows 22%, and its contribution to the state budget makes up 2.5% of the overall total, the government said.

Four licensed casinos — Do Son in northern Hai Phong city, Hoang Gia, and Loi Lai in northern Quang Ninh province, and Lao Cai in northern Lao Cai province — are today designated for only foreign passport holders and overseas residents of Vietnamese descent. But that may change.

Vietnam currently has more than 200 small, entrepreneurial firms which offer gambling services based on daily lottery results. Each of these firms generates revenues of between 500 million Vietnamese dong, or nearly $31,300, to billions of Vietnamese dong, or hundreds of thousands of dollars, every day.

Motivated by the success of Macau, Vietnam and other Asian countries are now jumping on the gambling bandwagon. Japan and Taiwan are considering legalizing casinos. Indian casinos are of course very popular already.

And construction began earlier this year on a new four-billion-dollar luxury gaming resort in southern Vietnam, expected to allow locals to wager, as well as foreigners.

Investment bank Merrill Lynch predicts that casino companies are expected to spend as much as $71 billion in Asia over the next five years.

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