Two South Korean operators of foreigner-only casinos there are reportedly to close down their gaming operations in line with the country’s effort at curbing the further spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to respective filings on Monday to the Korea Exchange.
One of the operators, Grand Korea Leisure Co Ltd – an affiliate of the Korea Tourism Organization, South Korea’s official tourism agency – said it would close its casinos from Tuesday (March 24) until April 6, according to its filing. Grand Korea Leisure runs three foreigner-only casinos in South Korea, under the ‘Seven Luck’ brand. Two properties are Paradise City located in the South Korean capital Seoul, while the other is in the southern port city of Busan.
Another foreigner-only casino operator, Paradise Co Ltd, told the Korea Exchange it would close down its four casino sites – at Seoul, Incheon, Jeju and Busan – for two weeks as well. It emphasised that its hotel operations at Paradise City, Incheon, and at Paradise Hotel Busan, were running “normally” .
In February Paradise Co had told GGRAsia the company had already been stepping up disinfection work at its properties. The Yonhap news agency reported on Monday that the firm had also been checking the temperature of visitors to its properties even prior to the closure announcement. Paradise Co said in its Monday filing it had now decided to shutter its casinos for the safety of its staff and customers.
The effort of the foreigner-only casino sector was said to be in line with the country’s efforts to promote “social-distancing” measures to help contain the outbreak of the novel coronavirus associated with the Covid-19 disease.
The move comes at a time when the country reported on Monday that daily new infection cases were below 100 for the second day in a row.
South Korea confirmed 64 new cases of the Covid-19 infection as of Sunday, according to data from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It brought the total number of infections in the nation up to that point to 8,961. It was a second straight day that the new-case tally was below 100, and Sunday’s daily tally of 64 was the lowest since daily new cases peaked at 909 on February 29, said Yonhap.
Privately-held Macau casino junket promoter Suncity Group said in a social media posting that it would “fully cooperate in the combat against coronavirus and employ relevant measures,” in relation to the South Korea closures.
The brand runs a Suncity VIP Club at Paradise City, a resort where the gaming is operated by Paradise Co at Incheon; and a Suncity VIP Club at Paradise Casino Walkerhill.
The junket brand added that South Korea’s foreigner-only casinos would be suspended “with effect from 10pm on March 24” until the stroke of midnight on April 5.
Kangwon Land Inc, the promoter of Kangwon Land, the only casino resort in South Korea where the country’s nationals are allowed to gamble, has had its gaming facility shuttered since February 23. On Friday it announced it had extended – for a fifth time – the temporary closure of its gaming venue. It now says it will reopen at 6am on April 6.
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"There’s a huge amount of possibilities out there and in the case of Macau, it seems that some of these issues should be considered or we may lose the epithet of gambling capital of the world"
Macau-based lawyer and senior partner at law firm Rato, Ling, Lei and Cortés