South Korea is preparing to alter regulations to ease up the casino licensing procedures.
In order to jump on the gambling bandwagon in Asia, South Korean gambling laws will be amended providing lower regulations for erecting new integrated resorts. This was confirmed by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism this week.
The integrated resorts will not only offer gambling facilities including opportunities for those who bet on sports in South Korea, but will also offer a wide range of tourist attractions. The government is expecting these resorts to help boost the country’s economy and tourism industry in particular.
Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism meeting
South Korean government is prepared to ease casino licensing procedure to get foreign investment
• South Korean gambling laws will be altered to speed up casino licenses
• The country is hoping to grab a piece of Chinese gambling market
• Gambling in Asian region is developing at a very fast pace
The Ministry’s trade and investment promotion committee held a meeting this week with the participation of the President Park Geun-hye. During the meeting, the Ministry revealed it will be supporting mega-resort project currently under way on Yeongjong Island and on the southern resort island of Jeju. The Ministry will also ease casino licensing rules in order to gain more foreign investment.
The Ministry’s statement in South Korean gambling news reads: “Asian nations such as Macau and Singapore are competitively building global resort complexes to attract foreign tourists, but South Korea has fallen behind in building world-class casinos. We will look at the ongoing resort projects and form a task force team to help resolve their difficulties.”
Casino licenses in South Korea
The Asian country is renowned for its tough approach to issuing casino licenses in the past. The main concern of regulators and government is gambling addiction. However, the government had to give way to a lighter approach hoping to grab a piece of a juicy pie that is the Chinese gambling market.
Erecting large-scale integrated resorts is part the South Korean government’s plans on attracting Chinese tourists, which are incidentally, major gambling customers around the world. The easing up of rules and regulations comes in the wake of toughening competition across the Asian countries.
Casinos in South Korea
Currently there are 17 casinos in South Korea with sixteen of them open to foreign visitors. The only place open only to local residents, at the same time being the only casino Korean population is allowed to gamble in, is the Kangwon Land, located in the remote mining town.
Eight of the country’s casinos are situated on the southern resort island of Jeju, a popular place for Chinese tourists lately, thanks to its very accommodative visa policy. Last year, the country has generated $2.7 billion in gambling revenue, a bit higher than the neighboring Philippines at $2.6 billion, but way behind Singapore at $6.4 billion.
Lowering legal obstacles for foreign casino operators will also see an introduction of a bidding system for operators’ selection as early as the first half of next year. The Ministry’s statement contains the following: “We will revise related regulations to foster integrated resorts and draw up systematic measures. We will adopt an open bidding system to give a preliminary approval for establishment of integrated resorts.”
Joint ventures with foreign companies
In an effort to boost the gambling sector’s development, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism has given a preliminary go ahead for LOCZ Korea. This entity is a joint venture between Indonesian conglomerate Lippo Group, and Las Vegas Caesars Entertainment. The joint venture received preliminary approval to erect a casino on Yeongjong Island, which will be open exclusively to foreign tourists.
The new company is planning to invest $700 million at the first stage of the casino resort by 2018, and complete it by 2023 investing an estimated total of $2.1 billion.
Jeju Island sees a joint venture by Landing International Development from China and Genting Singapore PLC, Asia’s largest casino operator. They are developing a $2.4 billion mega-resort with scheduled completion date of 2017.
More casino plans
There’s also a local company, casino operator Paradise, pushing to build a $1 billion resort on Yeongjong Island. The company is already preparing an application for a casino license.
Yeongjong Island is home to another large-scale casino project called “Dream Island”. It’s being pushed through by joint efforts of the World Han Sang Dream Island group – a Korean expatriate community, and the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries. This $2 billion project will include hotels, shopping malls and entertainment facilities, it is, however, still unknown if they will be applying for a casino license.
Industry experts’ opinion
With the support from the Ministry, all of these projects should have no problems being completed. The four resorts in question are estimated to bring in over $8 billion in income from tourism as well as create a massive number of new jobs for the local population.
Industry experts confirm there is positive growth potential in South Korean casino industry, naturally mentioning proximity to China as one of the main factors for projected success.
Kim Yoon-jin, an analyst at Daishin Securities Co., had the following comments: “Macau’s casino industry has rapidly grown in the last decade, while South Korea has recently seen a big surge of revenue from Chinese tourists. South Korea is expected to see a jump in the casino industry in the next five years.”