Korea Mulls Easing Gambling Laws to Bring in Foreign Investors

If enacted, new tourism strategy to bring in casino development investment from major Las Vegas and Japan-based firms, among others.

According to sources the South Korean government is expected to announce a tourism strategy that will make it easier for foreign investors to obtain casino licenses in the country’s special economic zones.

Critics of existing South Korean gambling laws have argued that it is too difficult for potential investors to meet financial stability requirements. Changes have been considered after the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism rejected applications for casino licenses from Las Vegas-based Caesar’s Entertainment and Japan’s Universal Entertainment.

The rejections made a splash in gambling news, as the two firms are casino giants in their respective countries.

The future of gambling in South Korea

Caesars, which applied for licensing in a joint venture with the Indonesian conglomerate Lippo Group, and Universal are expected to continue to seek licenses if regulations are indeed relaxed. Universal recently purchased a 136-square meter site in the Yeongjeon Sky City.

Other firms have also expressed optimism, with PNC Financial Services submitting a letter of intent for a KRW 7 million casino project. Additionally, Korean casino operator Paradise Group has paired with Japan’s Sega Sammy Holdings on a resort project, with construction to begin this spring.

While no official announcement of legal revisions has been made, the recent spate of large-scale purchases indicates that casino operators are willing to bet that the red tape will be cut soon.

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