According to Gambling Insider, all the casinos in and around Seoul will be closed for another two weeks. This follows the announcement made by Kwon Deok-Cheol on Saturday following the present viral resurgence of the pandemic in the country. Deok-Cheol is the South Korean Health Minister.
Apart from other non-essential sectors, the gambling industry in South Korea has been the worst hit since the pandemic broke out. Usually, players visit the casinos during the December holidays more. But the present state of events will not allow these betting venues to operate. How will the casinos recover from their massive losses? Will the South Korean government assist the land-based casinos?
Overview of the South Korean Land-based Casino Market
In 1967, the South Korean government approved gambling in the country for only foreigners. The first casino to operate in South Korea is Incheon Olympos Hotel Casino, and it was launched the same year. After a long time, Kangwon Land Casino became in 2000. Citizens and foreigners were allowed to gamble at Kangwon.
Not quite long, others started operating in South Korea’s major cities like Seoul, Jeju, Busan, etc. Currently, so many foreign-based game houses have begun working in Seoul and other South Korean cities. Nonetheless, more than ten land-based betting venues are presently operating in South Korea. A few of the land-based casinos in South Korea are:
- Jeju Shinhwa World
- Kangwon Land Resort & Casino
- Paradise Walker-Hill Casino
- The Shilla Jeju Casino
- Hyatt Regency Jeju
- Lotte Hotel and Casino
- Seoul Racecourse
- Paradise Casino
- Jeju Oriental Hotel & Casino
- Seoul Racecourse
- Sorak Park Hotel & Casino
Furthermore, most of these casinos are foreign-owned. Also, these online casinos guide offer classic games like roulette, blackjack, poker, etc. However, the most popular casino game in South Korea is baccarat.
To regulate and issue licenses, the Casino Control Act of 2006 established an agency known as the Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA).
Effect of COVID-19 on the South Korean Gambling Market
The pandemic has created a huge gap between South Korean operators’ profit in the past and now. Throughout 2020, most of the news revolved about COVID-19. It halted the growth of the gambling market in South Korea. Apart from the vast losses, jobs were lost too. Similarly, the government also lost revenues in taxes.
The effects mentioned above of the pandemic were not peculiar to the South Korean market. The only difference is that the South Korean market is still an emerging market with tourists and foreigners as most of their customers.
For instance, foreigner-only casino operator Paradise Co Ltd was shutting down their operations on the 15th of December 2020. Other casinos like Grand Korea Leisure closed down their various venues in Seoul in early December last year. Not to mention, the only casino that permits locals to gamble Kangwon Land, shut down for the third time on the 8th of December 2020.
The Online Gambling Market in South Korea
Presently, the laws legalizing online gambling in South Korea is yet to see the light of the day. South Korea is one of the few Asia countries that prohibits online gambling operations in the country. However, other forms of gambling permitted through the government-owned agency SportsToto in South Korea are:
- Horsing racing
South Koreans are not allowed to patronize foreign online sportsbooks operating in other jurisdictions. However, foreigners in the country are allowed to bet on online sportsbooks in other countries. Nevertheless, several sportsbooks accept players from South Korea.
It appears some South Korean locals have devised a means to access foreign sportsbooks without the knowledge of government authorities. Most use VPN to login into foreign sportsbooks to by-pass government blocks.
Will the Pandemic Trigger Gaming Rethink?
The drastic drop in gambling revenue may force the South Korean government to rethink its ban on online gaming. Consequently, this will make up for the revenues lost from land-based casinos.
Before the outbreak of the pandemic, Switzerland and other countries prohibited any form of online gambling. However, after their revenues had dropped drastically, the Swiss government had to legalize online gambling.
In the same vein, some states in the United States vehemently opposed any form of gambling. For instance, Texas had always opposed online sports betting. However, all that seems to be changing because of the drastic drop in the state’s revenue.
The Future of South Korean Gambling Market
If the government remains adamant about legalizing real money online gambling, it may affect their casino revenues. For now, no one knows when the pandemic will be over. The government needs to tap into online gambling to sustain its gaming industry.
Finally, if the South Korean government adopts online gambling, it will boost their gaming sector and increase revenue.