Grand Korea Leisure Co Ltd (GKL), an operator in South Korea of foreigner-only casinos under the Seven Luck brand, has told GGRAsia it plans to continue having two casino venues in the country’s capital Seoul, despite media reports that one of its current host venues there is to be sold and demolished for redevelopment.
The GKL person, who asked not to be identified by name, said the firm had been doing contingency planning since last year, based on the possibility that the Millennium Hilton Seoul hotel (pictured) would be sold off. The person added that GKL’s lease on the casino facility there ran until “December 31, 2022”.
GKL runs its Gangbuk Millennium, Seoul casino inside the hotel. The group’s other Seoul casino is at Gangnam COEX.
The person told GGRAsia there was no possibility of consolidating the Gangbuk and Gangnam operations just at the COEX venue, and that GKL planned still to have two casinos in the capital.
A Millennium Hilton Seoul reservation representative told GGRAsia in response to a Wednesday telephone enquiry, that hotel operations at the site would continue until “end of the next year” under the terms of a management contract for the hotel business. As of Wednesday, the hotel’s room-reservation website was still accepting bookings for 2022.
The Korea Economic Daily news outlet reported on Monday – citing investment banking sources – that the building housing the Millennium Hilton Seoul and GKL’s Gangbuk Millennium casino, was to be sold by its owner, Singapore-listed City Developments Ltd.
The outlet said the prospective buyer was Seoul-based IGIS Asset Management Co, which would pay circa KRW1 trillion (US$894 million) for the building, and redevelop the site as office and hotel space.
According to consolidated industry-wide data from South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism issued in early May, GKL’s Gangbuk casino saw a 64.9 percent decline in sales for full-year 2020, coinciding with disruptions linked to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Such sales were KRW77.79 billion in 2020, compared to KRW221.46 billion in 2019. The number of visits to the Gangbuk Millennium casino went down by 74.5 percent in 2020, to 230,064, compared to a tally of 901,723 in 2019. The market-wide decline in casino visitor numbers was 71.3 percent year-on-year in 2020, according to the ministry’s data.
GKL is a subsidiary of the Korea Tourism Organization, which in turn is affiliated to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. The group runs three gaming venues in South Korea: Gangbuk Millennium and Gangnam COEX in Seoul, as well as the Busan Lotte casino venue.
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