Turnover at South Korea’s foreigner-only casinos slumped by 5.37 percent in 2017 to less than KRW1.21 trillion (US$1.09 billion). In announcing the annual turnover for last year, the National Gambling Control Commission said the country’s 16 foreigner-only casinos saw almost 2.22 million visitors in 2017, a decrease of 6.22 percent between 2016 and last year.
The data at the regulator’s website was updated this week and reports all gaming activities in the country. The foreigner-only casinos contributed 5.56 percent of all gaming turnover in South Korea last year, which was about KRW21.73 trillion.
No commentary on the reasons for year-on-year turnover fluctuations is given in the commission’s annual updates.
The fall in last year’s turnover at foreigner-only casinos follows a mixed trend. In 2016, turnover at the country’s foreigner-only casinos was KRW1.28 trillion, an increase of 2.6 percent compared to 2015. After consecutive years of growth, 2015 saw a year-on-year decline of 9.7 percent.
Last year, the only casino in the country that admits South Korean players, run by Kangwon Land Inc, contributed 7.01 percent to gaming turnover. Annual turnover in the Kangwon Land casino fell by 6.43 percent to about KRW1.52 trillion. The number of visitors to the casino dropped by 1.7 percent to about 3.12 million people.
More recently, the South Korean casino sector has shown healthier signs, with the latest round of turnover results released earlier this month.
Last week, Grand Korea Leisure Co Ltd, which is a subsidiary of the Korea Tourism Organization, reported casino sales of about KRW40.59 billion for May, an increase of 16.7 percent from the same time last year. The organisation runs three foreigner-only casinos under the Seven Luck brand: two in Seoul and one in the southern port city of Busan.
Paradise Co Ltd, another foreigner-only casino operator, saw a 25.2-percent year-on-year increase in May, telling the Korea Exchange its casino revenue for May was about KRW51.96 billion compared to about KRW41.51 billion in May last year.
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"The [Macau] government has a lead in this subject in regards to what should be done after the [gaming] concessions expire. We will be first listening to what the government will say”
Ambrose So Shu Fai
Vice-chairman and chief executive at Macau casino operator SJM Holdings