Jeju Island governor Won Hee-ryong told local lawmakers he would push for a revision of gaming taxes and to establish a Singapore-style casino watchdog, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reports.
Mr Won, speaking during a parliamentary audit on Thursday, said the goal is to improve transparency of the gambling industry and boost the local economy.
He said the provincial government has been preparing to launch a casino regulator modelled after Singapore’s Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA), as a growing number of developers test opportunities for gambling resorts in Jeju Island (pictured).
In Singapore, the CRA is responsible for licensing and regulating the operation of casinos. It also issues or approves codes of practice relating to casino operations, as well as supervises those operations, the persons responsible for such operations and the conduct of gaming within the casinos.
“We have to first establish an effective regulation and taxation system before starting discussions on whether to open or repeal new casinos,” Yonhap quoted Mr Won as saying.
There are currently 17 casinos in South Korea, but South Korean nationals are only allowed to gamble at Kangwon Land, a difficult-to-access location 150 kilometres (93 miles) southeast of Seoul in Kangwon province. Eight of the 16 foreigner-only casinos are located in Jeju Island.
Mr Won, who took office in July, has for several times showed his concern about the opening of more casinos in Jeju Island. He has repeatedly vowed to tighten regulations and took issues with construction licenses issued by his predecessor.
The governor of Jeju has also shown resistance to the construction of a casino resort by Genting Singapore Plc. Genting is partnering with Chinese real estate developer Landing International Development Ltd to build the US$2.2 billion casino resort in Jeju.
Media reports say the ground-breaking ceremony was postponed after Mr Won ordered a review of the project for allegedly having exceeded the agreed planning permission.
The comments by Mr Won come after August’s announcement by the South Korean national government that it planned to reduce regulatory barriers faced by developers of integrated resorts that contain gambling facilities.
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”The casino [at Jeju Shinhwa World] has been totally finished since December”
Executive vice president, casino, at Landing Entertainment Korea