Upcoming S Korea casino to be closed to locals; There are 17 casinos in South Korea, but only one is open to Koreans

Upcoming S Korea casino to be closed to locals despite potential benefits

By Korea Bureau Chief Lim Yun Suk 
POSTED: 21 Mar 2014 16:37
South Korea is planning to build its first Las Vegas-style casino and entertainment resort. But the integrated resort will be closed to locals, at least for the time being.

SEOUL: South Korea is planning to build its first Las Vegas-style casino and entertainment resort.

If all goes well, the project by Caesars Entertainment, OUE and Indonesian property developer Lippo can open in a matter of years.

But the integrated resort will be closed to locals, at least for the time being.

There are 17 casinos in South Korea, but only one is open to Koreans.
It is located in the province of Kangwon, two and a half hours north of the capital.
Foreign investors have been pushing the government to open the doors to locals, but so far, the government has said no.
It is sticking to its guns even for the country’s first foreign-owned casino resort.
Kim Ki-hong, director of the ministry’s tourism bureau, said: “Without the public approval, it’s impossible to even think about opening the casinos to Koreans.”
Allowing Koreans access to casinos is a major concern for foreign investors of integrated resorts.

They said the government needs to reconsider its stance because it could be a game changer.
Suh Won Suk, professor of tourism studies at Kyunghee University, said: “If we build a mega-sized integrated resort allowing Koreans to enter the casinos, we can construct them as large as the integrated resorts that are being built in other Asian countries.

“If we have those mega-sized resorts, we can upgrade our tourism infrastructure, which would bring in much more economic benefits.”

Still, the current benefits are substantial.

Construction of the gambling, hotel and shopping haven will create 8,000 jobs between 2014 and 2018.
It is also expected to bring in more than US$800 million in tourist income – with a significant amount from China.
Mr Suh said: “Right now, the top customers to the integrated resorts in Asia are the Chinese tourists. And so if we have that integrated resort with the casino, it will be a very big attraction to the Chinese.”

South Korea plans to bring in about 10 million Chinese visitors a year by 2020, compared with 4.3 million last year – an increase of about 53 per cent from 2012.
Chinese visitors make up more than a third of total tourist arrivals, and they accounted for 41 percent of visitors to the country’s casinos in 2012.


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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