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Discretion pays for Vietnam casino raking in wealthy Chinese

DANANG, Vietnam A small beachfront Vietnamese casino is providing Macau’s VIP gambling scene a run for its income, drawing in much more wealthy Chinese via its columned facade than many Southeast Asian rivals with the allure of sun, sand and discretion.

Few outdoors Danang have heard of the Crown International Games Club, a privately owned casino situated along this quickly building city’s primary resort strip and which over the previous year has emerged as the most exciting location for wealthy Chinese to drop bets worth at least HK$ 1 million ($ 129,030).

The reputation of this low-profile casino among the world’s most prolific gamblers coincides with the waning fortunes of bigger, far more popular rivals such as the opulent Wynn Macau and Grand Lisboa in Macau as a Chinese government crackdown on corruption and conspicuous spending batters the world’s greatest gambling industry.

“This is a test case of a casino going below the radar that is undertaking very properly,” stated Ben Lee, managing partner at Asian gaming consultancy IGamiX. “There is no other destination I know exactly where the junket and casino organize 25 charter flights a week from China.”

Crown’s lack of renown can be put down to the Vietnamese government’s reluctance to promote Danang as a location for gambling, an activity which remains restricted to foreigners in this conservative, Communist nation which maintains a rigid stance on social order.

Owned by Chinese businessman Hui Kong, Crown is one particular of seven licensed casinos in Vietnam, currently a well-liked location for several Chinese tourists.

Its principal gaming location – plushly decked out in beige and gold – and 13 VIP rooms are about a quarter the size of an typical Macau casino, but business executives estimate monthly VIP turnover has enhanced over the past year to $ 3 billion a month, a figure at least double what larger rivals such as Solaire in the Philippines, NagaCorp in Cambodia and Genting Highlands in Malaysia rake in.

Crown executives declined to give any economic particulars.

“Appropriate now numerous folks come here largely to gamble,” said James Yang, marketing and advertising director at the luxury Crowne Plaza which flanks the casino. The hotel, managed by the Intercontinental Hotels Group, caters to its primarily Chinese guests by providing a sauna, a karaoke parlor and Mandarin-speaking employees.

The resort complicated, currently Danang’s biggest, will also double the quantity of its rooms as element of a $ 600 million redevelopment program that contains opening a JW Marriott-branded hotel, a duty cost-free shopping mall and an expansion of the casino.

NOT JUST PUNTS

A number of companies are also betting on Vietnam, which analysts say could turn out to be a significant Southeast Asian casino hub if it allows locals to gamble. Augustine Ha Ton Vinh, a professor who advises the government on the gambling business, said this restriction is most likely to come up for debate subsequent year.

Hong Kong-primarily based Chow Tai Fook Enterprises and VinaCapital are creating an up to $ 4 billion casino resort in central Quang Nam province which is due to open by 2018, while the Ho Tram, a casino backed by U.S. hedge fund Harbinger Capital, is expanding its premises on a beach a two-hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City.

So far, Chinese are the largest client base for Vietnam’s casinos and Crown, like its peers in Macau, works with junket operators, normally organizations which loan credit to VIP gamblers and support them bypass China’s currency controls.

At least 10 of these junkets are now only focusing on Danang, industry executives say, as the slump in Macau’s gaming market pushes their organization model to the brink of collapse.

“Buyers like the atmosphere right here significantly better,” said junket operator Hugo Huang as he sipped fresh coconut juice inside a private dining space adjacent to the casino. “We have beautiful beaches, cultural internet sites and it is very simple for Chinese to really feel comfortable.”

Huang, who also runs VIP rooms in Macau and Cambodia, charters two flights a week from China to Danang. Final month, he flew in one hundred VIP gamblers from China for a golf tournament, capping off the trip with a gala dinner and pop music concert.

Playing up all the leisure activities Danang has to offer you fits in with the government’s drive to rebrand the former wartime outpost for U.S. soldiers into a tourist location for all.

“At the moment, we are positioning ourselves as a leisure, beach and meeting and conferencing location,” mentioned Nguyen Xuan Binh, director of Danang’s tourism promotion office.

Asked about Crown, with its not possible-to-miss glitzy facade and elaborate fountains, Binh said he had by no means heard of it.

(Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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