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Potential Thailand gaming market won’t impact Vietnam: Grand Ho Tram CEO

The CEO of the Grand Ho Tram Resort, Walter Power, does not see a large impact on the Vietnam gaming market if neighboring Thailand is to advance to open up the sector.

Thailand is currently advancing towards gaming legalization, with a Thai parliamentary casino committee having proposed a gaming draft bill, which includes proposals such as a 17 percent gaming tax proposal.

The bill also estimates Thais will constitute three-quarters of the spending at potentially five to eight entertainment complexes to be built in the Southeast Asian kingdom.

A gaming industry veteran with 30 years of experience – in Macau, the United States, Argentina, South Africa, and the Philippines – in a keynote speech at the 6th ASEAN Gaming Summit Power dismissed possible market ‘canibalisation’ if Thailand was to really advance with the development of integrated resorts.

“It could impact Singapore, if some VVIP players currently fly from Singapore or Malaysia. Thailand has not yet decided if they will focus on locals or non-locals, I think they are leaning toward locals but I’m not sure,” he pointed out.

Having been appointed the CEO of the Ho Tram Project in Vietnam in 2020, Power also described the four factors that make an IR successful: location, management, branding, and financial strength .

The executive was adamant that without a “strong local component,” no integrated resort can be successful, and that having a strong local market and products that cater to that same market are high on the list for IR managers.

“What made Macau so successful was not that it had western style IRs but that it is located in Guangdong Province which has over 120 million people,” he pointed out.

While Macau IRs would also be highly reliant on baccarat tables, which are highly popular with Chinese punters, Marina Bay Sands in Singapore on the other hand had to implement slot machine games instead of gaming tables, more popular to the Malaysian market.

“When we opened Sands Macao, the group sent a group of Vegas table and slot executives that thought they knew everything there is to know. Guess what? They knew nothing about nothing didn’t and had to leave with their tail between their heads and left us to run the joint,” he pointed out.

Another crucial issue was the tax brackets imposed by regulators, with Power lamenting that Vietnam “unfortunately” enforces a 35 percent gaming income rate, which dictates the comps the operator can provide players.

“This will affect the effectiveness of your property. All these factors are interconnected. The investment the group wants to put into the property is also key. When I arrived Ho Tram there were slot machines that were 10 years old. We had to convince our owner to replenish the floor and get about 100 new machines that are highly successful,” he noted.

Nelson Moura
Nelson Moura
Editor and reporter with 10 years of experience in Greater China, namely Taiwan and Macau, in printed and online media, with a focus on finance, gaming, politics, crime, business and social issues.



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