Like several other countries in Asia, South Korea is seeking to attract investment in its gambling industry. In order to encourage international casino operators to develop large, luxurious casino resorts in the country it is believed that South Korea may grant three or more gambling licences in addition to those already approved. There may eventually be up to five integrated casino resorts constructed in the area surrounding Incheon Airport which is to the south of the nation’s capital, Seoul.
Restrictions on gambling in South Korea
Gambling is strictly controlled in South Korea and of the 17 casinos already operating in the country only one allows South Koreans to gamble there. Exemptions have been granted to hotels in the country that permit them to offer casino gaming but only to foreign players so tourists can play in casinos in Seoul, Jaegu Island and Incheon. The only casino where local players can legally gamble is in a casino in Kangwon Land, a leisure complex situated in a quite remote part of the country that would not encourage South Koreans to travel long distances to go there. There has been concern that liberalising the gambling industry to allow its citizens to gamble in any casino could lead to social difficulties linked to gambling. However, the ban on local players entering casinos has put some major international casino groups off investing in South Korea.
South Korea encouraging tourism
The development of integrated casino resorts is part of South Korea’s plans to greatly increase the number of tourists visiting the country. Chinese players are in great demand in other Asian countries such as Macau and Singapore that attract them with major local and foreign owned casino resorts. Players from the Chinese mainland already contribute over 40 per cent of the income in casinos in South Korea and this percentage is expected to jump when the integrated casino resorts planned for construction are opened over the next few years. A major casino complex to be launched in 2017 is a joint venture between Sega Sammy and Paradise Co.
A second integrated casino resort has also been granted approval by the South Korean authorities this casino resort planned by Caesars Entertainment, the Lippo Group and an un-named investor is to open in 2018. The Las Vegas Sands Group has expressed interest in developing a large scale integrated casino resort in South Korea but the company has let it be known that its investment could depend on the South Korean government changing its laws to allow local players enter new casino resorts. A spokesperson for Las Vegas Sands has claimed that the company isn’t insisting that all local players be allowed entry to casinos but rather that a fee might be put in place for South Koreans such as exists already in Singapore. The South Korean government is to release its plans for the issuing of more casino gambling licences by the end of the year.