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South Korea might raise minimum gambling age

Wed, Mar 13, 8:59am by Staff Writer

Legislation has reportedly been introduced in South Korea that would raise the minimum age for all casino players to 21 years old from 19 years old.

GGR Asia is reporting that the bill was aimed at preventing gambling addiction among the country’s youth and would require changes to articles 22 and 28 of the Tourism Promotion Act.

If approved, the revised requirement will apply to all casinos licensed under the Tourism Protection Act.

South Korea’s gaming sector includes 17 casinos, 16 of which are foreigner-only venues and only one that admits South Korean players, Kangwon Land.

The bill was submitted by legislator Kim Kwang-soo of the Party for Democracy and Peace, and co-sponsored by nine other lawmakers.

The news was first reported by Gambling Compliance, a subscription-based online casino industry news service.

The proponents of the bill cited the need to revise the age limit for those wishing to patronise casino in South Korea, because of what they said was a growing incidence of gambling addiction among the country’s youth.

They cited other major gaming destinations in Asia, such as Macau and Singapore, that restrict entry in casinos to patrons over the age of 21.

The Korea Casino Association is reportedly considering trying to fight the bill and could introduce opposing opinion to the country’s National Assembly in order to prevent the minimum age from being raised.

Locals only casino might be hardest hit

If the bill is approved, Kangwon Land could be the casino resort hit hardest by the new regulations, given its reliance on local players.

Profit for the operator of Kangwon Land dropped 32.1 per cent year-on-year in full-year 2018, pressured by an 8.3 per cent decline in gaming revenue.

It has been subject to considerable bad publicity in recent times.

There have been reports of corruption and embezzlement, while former chief executive officer Ham Seung-hee was eventually sentenced to three years in prison for his crimes.

This latest news comes after Grand Korea Leisure Ltd reported a 12.7 per cent decline in February, Calvin Ayre reports.

In total, the company had US$28.1 million in casino sales, representing an 8.3 per cent decrease when compared to January.

The biggest drop was in table game sales, which went down by 14.2 per cent, but machine game sales also fell by 3.1 per cent.

The operator runs three foreigner-only casinos in the country and is part of the Korea Tourism Organisation, a body with close ties to South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

Overall, 2019 income is down 18.8 per cent cent, largely due to a drop in tables games, which are down 20.9 per cent year on year.

The company’s revenues have been inconsistent for some time now and they have not made any strategy announcements since partnering with Dragon Inc to add cryptocurrency payments for their VIP rooms.

The news is better for rival Paradise Co, who reported a 28.5 per cent increase for the month of February, as it brought in nearly twice the sales compared to GKL at US$49.6 million.

The story told of the two operators is either that Paradise co are much better at bringing in customers, or there just aren’t enough tourists in South Korea to fill 17 casinos.

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