South Korea’s virus numbers increase as casinos close

by Mia Chapman Last Updated
South Korea might raise minimum gambling age

Casinos in South Korea have been forced to prolong their COVID-19 closures as the country struggles to reduce its infection rate.

Calvin Ayre reports the only South Korean casino that allows local residents, Kangwon Land, announced that its plan to reopen to the public last Monday wasn’t going to happen, with the closure extended until Monday, September 21.

Kangwon Land originally shut in late February but reopened some VIP gambling facilities in May.

Plans to reopen its mass market gaming floor acme to naught and the company was soon forced to shut all operations in mid-August, for the second time.

In early May, Kangwon Land said the shutdown had already caused lost revenue equal to nearly one-fifth of its 2019 total.

The company’s second quarter earnings report showed revenue falling 91.4 per cent year-on-year, while the first half bottom line showed a net loss of US$169.9 million.

Last Friday, the company said the latest shutdown would deprive it of millions more.

Paradise Co operates four foreigner-only casinos in South Korea and was forced to close its flagship Incheon casino last week due to COVID-19 cases among its restaurant staff.

Prior to these hiccups, Paradise appeared to be weathering the pandemic better than some of its rivals.

The company reported a flat July 2020 revenue figure and year to date revenue is down 51.4 per cent.

Keeping revenue flat on a sequential basis looks good compared to one of its rivals, Grand Korea Leisure, which reported that its three foreigner-only casinos netted a 11 per cent drop in August, compared to July.

Last Monday, South Korea reported 119 cases, extending a streak of daily triple-digit gains since August 14, although the figure has failed to top 200 for five consecutive days.

The capital city Seoul imposed new restrictions Monday, including banning eating and drinking at food trucks and street stalls, as well as ordering bakeries and ice cream shops to close.

Easing of finance requirements for Vietnam casino developments

Amendments are coming the casino investment requirements in Vietnam.

Asgam reported in August the Vietnamese Ministry of Finance released a report recommending the amendment of certain provisions governing the nation’s casinos.

The amendments aim to ease the burden on operators and investors amid substantial losses within the sector, including removing a requirement for casino and integrated resort investors to pay at least 50 per cent of total investment capital for a project before it can be granted its licence.

According to the Ministry, such a requirement is not feasible for projects being developed in regions lacking infrastructure, where the investor may also need to inject funding into infrastructure improvements.

Local media reports the Ministry will ease restrictions on advertising as well.

Operators are currently only allowed to advertise their business at casino entry points, but this will be expanded to allow for advertising anywhere within the region where the project is located to allow greater opportunity to introduce the business to international travellers.

The minimum US$2 billion investment requirement will remain in place.

The easing of some provisions supports information contained in the Ministry’s report, which shows the Corona Resort and Casino in Phu Quoc, the first of two casinos granted permission to allow local gambling under a three year pilot program, suffered a US$108.8 million loss in 2019.

Corona opened in January 2019 and attracted 105,000 casino visitors throughout the year, of which 474,00 or 45 per cent were Vietnamese.

The resort generated revenue US$61.6 million, including US$59.4 million from its casino.

Vietnam’s second casino granted permission to welcome locals, located in the rural district of Van Don has yet to open.

The Ministry of Finance said casino revenues across Vietnam’s eight licensed casinos reached US$107.5 million in 2019, more than double that of 2017.

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