There have been many setbacks to the possible legalisation of casino gambling in Japan. Over the past year the Japanese Gambling Bill never managed to get the necessary support to be passed in parliament and hopes that it would be finally discussed before the end of the current sitting have been dashed again. The Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe dissolved the parliament last week to prepare the way for a snap election on the 14th of December. This means that it is very unlikely that Japan will have legal casinos before the country hosts the 2020 Olympic Games. However, one man’s loss is another’s gain as the proximity of South Korea’s casino industry will be attractive to Japanese gamblers who still can’t gamble legally in their own country.
South Korea’s casino industry is growing
While at the moment the casino industry in South Korea is worth around 2.4 billion dollars which is only a fraction of the income from gambling in Macau, the market has benefitted recently from a change in the South Korean government’s attitude to granting casino licences. Like other Asian countries, South Korea’s government wanted to avoid major problems with addiction to gambling and so was slow to issue new licences. Now however there are several huge integrated casino resort projects in the pipeline. Several major international casino operators have plans to invest in South Korea and only last week work began on the country’s first integrated casino resort. The Paradise City casino resort is to open in 2017 and will cost joint partners Paradise Co and Sega Sammy Holdings almost 1.2 billion dollars to build. Another Asian company, Chow Tai Fook Enterprises plans to construct a billion dollar casino resort in Incheon.
Several major international companies are also investing in South Korea’s gambling market including Caesars Entertainment which plans to build a casino resort in Incheon and Genting HK is to set up a casino in the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Jeju Island. The Las Vegas Sands is also said to be interested in developing an integrated casino resort in South Korea.
Now that Japan’s casino gambling bill has been postponed indefinitely, South Korea’s casinos will most likely attract Chinese gamblers who would possibly have gone to Japanese casinos as well as attracting Japanese players who now have to continue travelling outside their country to gamble legally. South Korea is already looking attractive to Chinese tourists whose numbers increased by over 50 per cent in 2013. Of these many would have visited casinos during their stay. Another thing that favours gambling in South Korea is that the basis of the industry is already in place whereas in Japan since casinos are illegal, the industry would have to start from scratch.