Photo: Marina Bay Sands
Mr. George Tanasijevich, CEO and President of Marina Bay Sands and Managing Director of Global Development at Las Vegas Sands Corp. (LVSC), spoke with VET about the group's desire to develop casino projects in major cities in Vietnam.
The Vietnamese Government has recently made the historic decision to issue a decree allowing local citizens entry into casinos. Do you plan to continue your casino project in the country?
We believe this is an important step in the right direction. However, there is still uncertainty and risk from the perspective of the investor, given that local entry is being introduced as a three-year pilot program. We will closely follow the program and assess our opportunities.
Did LVSC send any proposal to the government on the project’s reactivation after the official issuance of the decree?
We have been working continuously with the Vietnamese Government for many years, way before the decree was issued. Our desire to invest and develop an Integrated Resort in Ho Chi Minh City and/or Hanoi remains unchanged.
What is the detailed plan to develop this type of recreation in Vietnam?
LVSC is the pioneer and the only developer of the MICE-focused IR (Integrated Resort) model, which is designed to attract large-scale international Meetings, Incentives, Conventions, and Exhibitions (MICE). Our world-class MICE facility would help to boost tourism and enhance Vietnam’s reputation as a place to do business. LVSC would also work with local experts to develop cultural shows for the IR that would appeal to tourists as well as educate them on Vietnam’s rich history, ensuring that the IR is a global platform for Vietnam’s culture.
To maximize the success of such a model, as well as fully capture the spill-over benefits on the project’s surrounding businesses, the multi-billion dollar MICE-focused IR must be placed in a central urban location such as Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi, which would result in the greatest economic impact for Vietnam in terms of job creation, increased tourism, economic growth, and tax revenue.
We will put in place measures that are designed to offer gaming as a form of entertainment, as an activity within one’s means. We will work closely with local authorities to manage a set of social safeguards. We have experience with social safeguards in Singapore that have proven effective at lowering levels of problem gambling within the community. Our Marina Bay Sands project in Singapore is a prime example of the success of the MICE-focused IR. It is our plan to develop a similar business model but with features and programming tailored for Vietnam if we are given the opportunity.
How do you view the potential of Vietnam’s entertainment market in the eyes of foreign investors now the decree has been introduced?
We view Vietnam as a market that has a huge upside for business and leisure tourism. We believe that our MICE-focused business model would be very successful if situated in the right location, in Ho Chi Minh City and/or Hanoi. If Vietnamese are given access to the casino, subject to certain restrictions, and the project is subject to reasonable investment criteria, tax rates and casino regulation, we would be eager to proceed with the development of an IR in the country.