Foreign investors target Vietnam’s huge sports betting market
Since sports betting has been legalized, foreign investors are scrambling to build racecourses in Vietnam.
Choi Hak Soo, president of South Korea’s Golden Horse, said during a meeting with leaders of Bac Ninh last week that his company plans to set up a subsidiary in the northern province to build a racecourse.
He expected the $500 million investment plan to be ready by October for submission to the government for approval, saying his company is in the process of mobilizing funds.
Golden Horse had first proposed the plan to Bac Ninh last year when the National Assembly (NA) was wrapping up its discussion on legalizing sports betting.
A traditional horse race in the central province of Phu Yen
The 400-hectare entertainment complex will include a horse racecourse, a resort and a residential area, and create 5,000-10,000 jobs.
The NA late last year approved a bill legalizing sports betting, and last month the government promulgated a decree regulating the sports-betting business, throwing open opportunities for foreign investors.
Illegal sports betting used to be rampant in the country.
A year earlier the government had also cautiously opened casino doors to locals.
There are no official reports on the value of illegal sports betting, but a study by Prof Ha Ton Vinh, who has spent much of his professional life studying Vietnam’s gambling and sports betting activities, said Vietnamese used to spend an estimated $800 million a year overseas on gambling.
The police have in the last two years busted dozens of illicit online gambling and sports betting operations worth hundreds of millions of US dollars.
At the meeting in Bac Ninh, Choi said Golden Horse faces many rivals in sports betting in this country.
Amplefield, a Singapore-listed company, is the latest name to enter the industry here. Last April it signed a memorandum of understanding to set up a joint venture for building a racecourse in HCMC.
Amplefield will hold a 60 percent stake in it while Malaysia’s Equine Sanctuary, a provider of horse care services and horse-racing consultancy services in Singapore, will hold the rest.
According to Amplefield, the joint venture will build a 300-hectare racecourse and property complex in Sing Viet City. It will include a residential component with some 16,000 units, horse racing, gaming and golfing facilities.
“This is the first step towards the development of the racino facilities, and we are excited about what lies ahead as this has tremendous potential to be a huge draw for both tourists and locals and stimulate further development activities in the area,” Yap Weng Yau, executive director of Amplefield, said in a statement.
Another South Korea firm, G.O.Max, is also pursuing a giant horse racing and entertainment complex in the province of Vinh Phuc at an estimated cost of $1.5 billion.
It had been proposed to the Vinh Phuc People’s Committee as long ago as in 2005 as a $570 million investment, but was not approved. Now, following the new developments, the investor has again decided to throw its hat in the ring.
G.O.Max has projected building a horse racecourse on a site of 200 hectares and running three races a week. Seventy betting points will be set up in 54 cities and provinces around the country, as well as an online betting system.
Jung Young Jin, strategy director of G.O. Max, has indicated to the media there will be revenues of $972 million and taxes of $100 million a year in the first five years.
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