S. Korea to decide soon to award foreign casino licenses to operators

South Korea currently has a total of 17 operating casinos and the only one that can provide game services to Koreans because the government has adopted a strict anti-gambling policy for locals in the remaining 16 casinos.

The Korean government is encouraging companies to invest in the casino industry and build more casinos. Many companies have been interested in the proposal and have applied for a casino license currently under review by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism is expected to issue two casino licenses and will probably announce the names of the winners before the end of this month.

The Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries confirmed that it received a total of six proposals for three specific regions in Korea , with Yeongjongdo Island, which is very close to Incheon International Airport and serves as a gateway to the West.

The Korean government has issued various provisions that require gambling operators to meet the requirement to obtain casino licenses, including at least 1 trillion won or $811.5 million, of which at least $500 million must be created by foreign investors.

Casino resorts should be five-star properties and have at least 1,000 hotel rooms, shopping areas, convention centers, and luxury entertainment facilities. The government also restricted the floor area for games from exceeding 5% of the total floor area.

Korea’s casino industry has continued to grow rapidly thanks to the increase in tourists, even though there is no gambling policy for locals. One of the biggest contributions of the gambling industry is the influx of mainland Chinese tourists lured to Korean casinos by junket operators who offer interesting casino packages that are much more attractive than casinos in Vietnam and the Philippines.

The two leading gamblers in securing these casino licenses are Hong Kong-based Imperial Pacific, a U.S. tribal casino operator that has partnered with local builder Daewoo Engineering & Construction and partnered with Korean chemical firm KCC.


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