Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar are high risk profile jurisdictions
Indochina is attracting significant interest from gaming and tourism investors at present, with Vietnam in particular seen as one of the hottest markets in the region, reports Asia Gaming Brief, about developments in Asia, anyone seeking to tap into their growth potential needs a strong stomach for highly perceived risk in some emerging jurisdictions, where some of the main concerns for investors, from relations with China, through to regulation and competition for the same client pool pose some of the concerns in the Indochina region.
While Cambodia represents rapid expansion driven by Chinese investment as part of the “one belt one road initiative”, while facilities improve in the country and mainland Chinese businesses flood in, there is a spate of Macau’s junket operators looking for opportunities. The China factor is changing the traditional client base for many operators with all the challenges that entails.
Nonetheless, despite regulatory uncertainty and a relatively high-risk profile, land-based operators will be closely watching developments across the Indochina region over the coming months. Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar offer varying degrees of opportunity for operators keen to invest in the region.
“Southeast Asia is a hot market at the moment with lots of new development, especially in Vietnam and Cambodia,” said Stephen J. Karoul, president and CEO of boutique casino consulting company Euro-Asia Consulting, LLC. However, these markets are not without significant political and operational risk.
Perhaps the most appealing of the four is Vietnam. “I think Vietnam has the greatest likelihood of moving towards a contemporary model of casino regulation, and it is certainly likely to elevate the standard of compliance above that of the other emerging jurisdictions around it,” commented David Green, former gaming practice director with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Macau and founder of gaming consultancy Newpage Consulting.
Meghalaya considers legalizing casinos
Further afield, State officials from Meghalaya, a state located in the North East of India, is cautiously exploring the idea of opening a casino in the region. Sources in the Secretariat said that political leaders are keen to see a casino open up, likely at the Byrnihat in Ri Bhoi district.
As it is with highly religious jurisdictions, officials said they wanted to move slowly on the matter because of the morality factor. It is understood that although the idea is only in the planning stage, related departments have already begun working on it.
The Meghalaya government would be looking for a casino model along the lines of Nepal and Sikkim, where locals would be forbidden to enter. Currently, the only legal casinos in India are found in Goa, Daman, Diu, and Sikkim.